Now, the verification process begins.
Secretary of State John Gale says it will take a while to verify the nearly 167,000 signatures turned in to place the death penalty on the ballot next year.
“This is a time of sorting of a considerable quantity of material,” Gales tells Nebraska Radio Network. “We received stacks of boxes yesterday, 93 boxes of the petitions that have been accumulated by the proponents of the repeal.”
Nebraskans for the Death Penalty gathered more than enough signatures to meet two thresholds. If approximately 57,000 are verified as belonging to registered voters, the issue makes the November 2016 ballot. If nearly 114,000 are verified, the referendum succeeded in blocking the legislature’s repeal of the death penalty from going into effect.
The workers at the Secretary of State’s office will sort, number, and label petition sheets then send them to county election authorities for verification of signatures as those from registered voters.
Secretary of State John Gale says the counties will have 40 days to verify signatures.
“The county election officials have a really onerous burden in order to go through the voter registration data base and then make those comparisons in a conscientious fashion, which they will,” Gale says.
Gale says gathering 166,692 signatures is a significant achievement.
“I would say that that’s a pretty significant number of signatures that have been gathered,” Gales says. “Consequently, I don’t anticipate any difficulty, I would not predict, but I would not anticipate any difficulty of their achieving the 10% level, which would stay the law.”
Nebraskans for the Death Penalty have left plenty of room for error. Gale points out the group gathered nearly 50% more than the total needed to block the legislative repeal of capital punishment from taking effect.
“I think they can, with pretty safe confidence, feel that they’ve met that goal.”