A referendum petition effort must deliver signatures to the Secretary of State by Thursday.
“Well, we launched this campaign back in the first week of June and from the outset we said that we were cautiously optimistic or felt pretty good based upon the support of Nebraskans for the death penalty that we would have some success in gathering signatures,” Chris Peterson, spokesman for Nebraskans for the Death Penalty tells Nebraska Radio Network.
Peterson says the petition drive has been well received throughout the state; finding its strongest support in northeast Nebraska where support for capital punishment remains strong in wake of the Norfolk bank robbery shootings of more than a decade ago.
Peterson bases his cautious optimism on public opinion polling which indicates perhaps as many as 65% of Nebraska voters support the death penalty.
The drive aims at two thresholds. If approximately 57,000 signatures of registered Nebraska voters sign the petitions the death penalty will be on the November 2016 ballot. The signatures must be 5% of the registered voters from 38 counties. If between 114,000 and 115,000 are turned in, the drive can stop the Unicameral’s repeal of the death penalty from taking effect.
Nebraskans for the Death Penalty has declined to reveal any numbers.
The ACLU of Nebraska has been the biggest opponent of the drive, launching a counter-campaign urging Nebraskans to “Decline to Sign” the petition under the umbrella of Nebraskans for Public Safety.
ACLU Nebraska officials recently requested the federal prosecutor investigate the state’s effort to obtain lethal injection drugs. Nebraska ACLU Legal Director Amy Miller claims documents obtained through an open records request indicate federal authorities informed state officials that federal law prohibits the importing of the drugs.
Peterson doesn’t believe that will have an impact on the petition drive.
“Boy, I really don’t think that the ACLU’s last-ditch effort here in the waning days of a petition drive to drum up that issue is going to have any impact on our efforts,” according to Peterson.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [1 min.]