Signature requirements for ballot measures in Nebraska
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In Nebraska, the number of required signatures is tied to the number of registered voters in the state as of the statutory deadline for filing signatures. Nebraska is the only state where the number of required signatures is tied directly to the number of registered voters. Most states tie their calculation to how many people actually voted for governor (or some other statewide office) in the most recent election. Because of this unique policy, Nebraska is also the only state where petition sponsors cannot know the exact number of signatures required until the day these signatures are filed.
For proposed statutes, the number required is 7% of registered voters. For amendments, the number required is 10% of registered voters. The Nebraska Constitution provides for two distinct types of referendum. In the first type, the law is referred to ballot but remains in effect until the vote--this requires signatures from 5% of registered voters. In the second, the law is referred to the ballot and suspended until voters have weighed in--this requires signatures from 10% of registered voters. Most states only feature the latter type of veto referendum.
Basis of calculation
- For an initiated constitutional amendment, Nebraska requires signatures equal to 10% of the number of registered voters as of the filing deadline.
- A statute initiative requires signatures equal to 7% of registered voters in signatures at the filing deadline.
- A veto referendum petition requires signatures equal to 5% of voters registered at the filing deadline.
- A veto referendum to suspend a law before it can go into effect had to equal 10% of those registered to vote. To suspend a newly enacted law, the signatures had to be collected and turned in within 90 days of the adjournment of the legislative session during which the statute was enacted. Otherwise, if the signatures are turned in by the ordinary statutory deadline (four months prior to an upcoming general election) but after the 90 day window for suspending a law, then (a) the law takes effect, (b) the law will be nullified after it has taken effect if it fails on the ballot and (c) fewer signatures are required than if the goal is to suspend the law before it goes into effect.
Registered voters list
The number of required signatures is based on the size of the list of registered voters as of the statutory, legal deadline for turning in signatures. This date is no later than four months prior to the general election at which the proposed ballot measure will appear on the ballot. The allowable circulation period for initiatives in Nebraska is one year. If the sponsors of an initiative circulate a petition and turn it in before the legal deadline-even well before the legal deadline--the number of required signatures is still based on the size of the list of registered voters as of the legal deadline, not as of the date the signatures were filed with the Secretary of State.
Because of this provision in Nebraska law, it is not possible for the government to determine whether a petition filed early has enough signatures. They have to wait until the statutory deadline for filing signatures has passed, because not until then are they able to determine the number of signatures that are legally required.
- See also: Distribution requirements
For both initiated statutes and constitutional amendments, proponents had to collect signatures from 5% of the registered voters in each of 2/5 (38) of Nebraska's counties. (The same is true for veto referendums that do not prevent the targeted law from taking effect. For those that do suspend the law, 10% of the registered voters had to sign the petition in each of the required counties.)
- See also: Laws governing recall in Nebraska
Number of signatures
According to NRS 32.1303, a recall petition had to be "signed by registered voters equal in number to at least thirty-five percent of the total vote cast for that office in the last general election, except that (a) for an office for which more than one candidate is chosen, the petition shall be signed by registered voters equal in number to at least thirty-five percent of the number of votes cast for the person receiving the most votes for such office in the last general election, (b) for a member of a board of a Class I school district, the petition shall be signed by registered voters of the school district equal in number to at least twenty-five percent of the total number of registered voters residing in the district on the date that the recall petitions are first checked out from the filing clerk by the principal circulator, and (c) for a member of a governing body of a village, the petition shall be signed by registered voters equal in number to at least forty-five percent of the total vote cast for the person receiving the most votes for that office in the last general election."
In general, therefore, the number of signatures required to force a recall election is 35% of the total vote cast for that office in the last general election, except in these three special cases:
|Type of jurisdiction||Signatures required|
|Multi-member districts||35% of the number of votes cast for the person receiving the most votes for such office in the last general election|
|Class I school district||25% of the number of registered voters residing in the district on the date that the recall petitions are first checked out from the filing clerk by the principal circulator|
|Village governing body||45% of the total vote cast for the person receiving the most votes for that office in the last general election|
Time allowed to collect signatures
According to NRS 32.1305, signatures on the recall petitions had to be submitted to the appropriate filing clerk "within thirty days after the filing clerk issues the initial petition papers to the principal circulator or circulators."
Petition signatures must be submitted to the Nebraska Secretary of State at least four months prior to the general election. In addition, signatures which are at least four months old at the time of a general election, become invalid. In general this means that the signature gathering process can last for roughly two years if begun mid-July of an even numbered year.
- Ballot access requirements for political candidates in Nebraska
- Laws governing the initiative process in Nebraska
- Campaign finance requirements for Nebraska ballot measures
- Election result resources
- Voter guides
- State Blue Books
- State executive official elections, 2012
- Signature requirements and deadlines for 2012 U.S. Congress elections
- Signature requirements and deadlines for 2012 state legislative elections
- Statewide elections, 2012
- 2012 election dates
- 2010 Election Information
- How to use the Initiative and Referendum Process in Nebraska from the Secretary of State
- NCSL signature chart for 2008
- Nebraska signature requirements collated by the Citizens in Charge Foundation
- Candidate Information Page
- Filing Information
- State Office Information Page
- Election Calendar 2012
- Federal Office Information Page
- Nebraska Initiative and Referendum Guide
- Confirmed with Nebraska Secretary of State-Elections Division via phone on 1-26-2011
State of Nebraska
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