Nebraska’s top election authority believes the state initiative petition process needs to have a geographic component.
A federal judge has struck down the requirement that initiative petition organizers must gather signatures of at least five percent of the registered voters in 38 of the Nebraska’s 93 counties.
Secretary of State John Gale favors some sort of geographic requirement.
“There shouldn’t be a rush to allow all of the signatures to be gained from the largest or the top-three counties,” Gale tells Nebraska Radio Network. “There certainly needs to be something like, maybe, Congressional District distribution.”
Senior United States District Judge Joseph Bataillon threw out the geographic requirement in the state initiative petition process. The judge ruled the current requirement gave too much weight to rural voters over urban voters, violating the equal protection clause of the federal Constitution.
While Gale would like to see some geographic requirement in the process, he says even one based on Congressional districts could leave out much of western Nebraska.
“And so, if you said Congressional District distribution equally, you probably wouldn’t need to go west of Columbus to get a third of the signatures you need on an initiative petition,” according to Gale.
The state could appeal the ruling. The Attorney General’s office says it will talk with Gale about a possible appeal.
If an appeal isn’t made, Gale expects the Unicameral to consider a change in the law to accommodate the ruling.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]