Nebraska Petition Rule Struck Down

Thu, Nov 20 2014 by Neal Hobson

A century-old Nebraska rule for initiative qualification has been struck down as unconstitutional by US District Court Judge Joseph F. Bataillon. The provision required signatures from “5% of registered voters of each of the 2/5ths of the counties in the state.” This meant that petitions for ballot measures were required to be circulated in at least 38 of the 93 counties in the Cornhusker State.

The plaintiff in the case, Kent Bernbeck, brought the suit claiming that under the now defunct rule, rural voters counted for more than voters in more urban areas. 

“The court finds that the facts presented in this case show clearly that urban votes are diluted under the Nebraska Constitution,” the judge stated in his opinion.

A number of states still have laws on the books, which by requiring a geographic distribution of signatures, rather than population-based, violate the federal constitutional “one man, one vote” principle.

AllGov: Federal Judge Rules Nebraska’s Initiative Rule is Unconstitutional

Courthouse News Service: Nebraska Initiative Rule Violates US Constitution

Judge Bataillon’s Order