skip to main content
skip to newscasts

Monday, June 24, 2024

Public News Service Logo
facebook instagram linkedin reddit youtube twitter
view newscast page
play newscast audioPlay

America's 'Radical Elders' continue their work for fairness, justice; SCOTUS upholds law disarming domestic abusers; Workplace adoption benefits help families, communities; Report examines barriers to successful post-prison re-entry in NC.

view newscast page
play newscast audioPlay

A congresswoman celebrates Biden protections for mixed status families, Louisiana's Ten Commandments law faces an inevitable legal challenge, and a senator moves to repeal the strict 19th century anti-obscenity and anti-abortion Comstock Act.

view newscast page
play newscast audioPlay

A Minnesota town claims the oldest rural Pride Festival while rural educators say they need support to teach kids social issues, rural businesses can suffer when dollar stores come to town and prairie states like South Dakota are getting help to protect grasslands.

Ballot Initiative Requirements Challenged as Unconstitutional

play audio
Play

Tuesday, May 17, 2022   

The American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit challenging Nebraska's requirements for voter-led initiatives and referendums to qualify for a statewide ballot.

Currently, campaigns must collect signatures from at least 5% of voters in 38 of the state's 93 counties to qualify.

Daniel Gutman - a contract attorney for the ACLU of Nebraska - is leading the litigation. He said the requirement is unconstitutional because it dilutes the vote.

"Nebraska is a geographically diverse state," said Gutman. "And when you require 5% of the registered voters from 38 arbitrary counties, what you're doing is you're placing value and power on some people's vote over others."

Gutman noted that campaigns must collect 17,000 signatures in highly populated Douglas County, but the same campaign needs to collect just 17 signatures in Arthur County, with an estimated 337 registered voters.

Courts have struck down similar requirements in other states, who argued that geographical requirements were necessary to ensure that rural voters were not overpowered by urban populations.

Crista Eggers is a plaintiff in the case and leads a ballot campaign for Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana.

Her doctor told her that in order for her seven-year-old son to receive effective treatment for epilepsy, she would have to leave the state, or convince lawmakers to legalize medical cannabis. She said after an eight year struggle, she believes taking the issue to voters is the only way to change the law.

"But this is something that we're also fighting," said Eggers, "so that those who are fighting just as important issues in the future - that this is something that we take a look at - at whether this process is hindering and diluting the voice and the vote of Nebraska voters."

Gutman said there are other ways to ensure that rural and urban areas get an equal say on ballot measures. For example, other states require an equal number of qualified voter signatures from each of the state's equally populated federal Congressional districts.

"States do want input from people around the state in order to put an initiative or referendum on the ballot," said Gutman. "And that's not what we're challenging, actually; we don't necessarily disagree with that."


Disclosure: ACLU of Nebraska contributes to our fund for reporting on Civil Rights, Criminal Justice, Immigrant Issues, Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


get more stories like this via email
more stories
The 2024 Summer U.S. Conference of Mayors in Kansas City, Mo., will be under the leadership of its president, Mayor Hillary Schieve of Reno, Nev., and host Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas.
(SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe Stock)

play sound

Some Michigan mayors are out of the office this week - but still working for their cities. They're at the 92nd meeting of the United States …


Social Issues

play sound

Summer is here, but some Wisconsin households juggling higher consumer costs and other basic needs might feel like a vacation is out of reach…

Social Issues

play sound

An interim North Dakota legislative committee this week got an update from state leaders on potential moves to reconnect kids in foster care with thei…


Social Issues

play sound

More employers are offering benefits to adoptive parents, according to a new survey by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. The amount of paid …

North Carolina is home to 934,604 small businesses. (Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

play sound

North Carolina's business community is alarmed after Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson praised the controversial House Bill 2, known as the "Bathroom Bill," at …

play sound

Danskammer Energy is no longer seeking an expansion of its Newburgh plant. The original plan called for expanding the company's "peaker plant" meant …

Social Issues

play sound

The Black Hills National Forest is one of the latest federal lands to enter a co-stewardship agreement with local tribal nations-a management model en…

 

Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member- and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021