Signature requirements for ballot measures in Nebraska

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This page details signature requirements for statewide ballot measures in Nebraska.
Nebraska
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List of measures

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.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Nebraska Constitution, Article III, Sections 2 & 3

Basis of calculation

See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Nebraska
  • 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.

Geographic distribution

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.)

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Nebraska Constitution, Article III, Sections 2 & 3

Recall

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."

Deadlines

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.[1]

2014

The deadline to submit signatures for the 2014 ballot in Nebraska was July 4, 2014.[1]

2012

The deadline to submit signatures for the 2012 ballot in Nebraska was July 6, 2012[2].

2010

The signature filing deadline for the November 2010 ballot was July 2, 2010. No signatures were filed and as a result, there were no initiated measures on the 2010 Nebraska ballot.

See also

2012

External links

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Nebraska Initiative and Referendum Guide
  2. Confirmed with Nebraska Secretary of State-Elections Division via phone on 1-26-2011