Secretary of State John Gale says he’s confident the group, Nebraskans for the Death Penalty, has met the threshold to force a vote on capital punishment.
He isn’t comfortable predicting whether the group can block the legislature’s repeal of the death penalty from taking effect.
Gale says his office has received more than 65,000 verified signatures from county election authorities, more than enough to place the issue on the November 2016 ballot.
Organizers would have had to gather approximately 114,000 signatures of registered voters to keep the repeal from going into effect.
County election authorities are checking the signatures submitted by the group.
“They’ll likely use most of their 40 days in order to determine whether or not that 114,000 verified signatures goal is reached in order to stay the effectiveness of the legislation that repeals the death penalty,” Gale tells Nebraska Radio Network.
Opponents of the death penalty in the Unicameral succeeded first in breaking a filibuster during this past legislative session, then in overriding a gubernatorial veto in enacting LB 268.
Nebraskans for the Death Penalty launched its petition campaign shortly after the legislative session. The group gathered nearly 166,000 signatures. So far, about 15% have been rejected, because they were not signatures of registered Nebraska voters. The petition dive needed slightly under 57,000 verified signatures to place the issue on the November 2016 ballot, or 5% of the state’s registered voters. It needs 10%, or around 114,000, to keep LB 268 from becoming law.
Gale’s office will be reviewing the submissions for final certification.
“There’s some variables that will occur when it gets to our office, but you’re not talking about significant variables in terms of possible changes on approved or rejected signatures,” according to Gale.
Gale says the counties have until mid-October to complete the certification process.