Senior United States District Judge Joseph Bataillon threw out the requirement that petition organizers must gather signatures of at least five percent of the registered voters in 38 of Nebraska’s 93 counties.
Attorney Dave Domina, who represented Omaha resident Kent Bernbeck in his challenge of the regulation, says the judge ruled the geographic requirement distorted the process.
“Because they give excess weight to signatures from sparsely populated counties as compared with those from counties with greater populations,” Domina tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN.
Bataillon found that the Nebraska law gave more weight to rural voters than urban voters.
Domina says the judge got it right.
“In order to assure that the one-man, one-vote or one-person, one-vote principle is observed, it’s necessary that each signature on an initiative or referendum petition have equal force and effect with any other signature,” according to Domina.
Domina says the ruling likely will pave the way for more initiatives to make it on the ballot in Nebraska.
Jane Monnich, KLIN, contributed to this story.