LINCOLN — A pro-death penalty group has submitted more than enough “approved” signatures to force a referendum on capital punishment during the 2016 general election, the Nebraska Secretary of State’s Office reported Friday evening.
As of Friday, the office said that county clerks across the state have already verified 65,171 signatures from at least 38 counties, more than enough to meet the 56,942 threshold needed to qualify the issue for the ballot.
“They’ve got a strong cushion,” Secretary of State John Gale said Friday night.
He said he was “very comfortable” predicting that when the signatures are finally certified, the referendum has qualified for the ballot.
Clerks are still counting to determine whether the drive by Nebraskans for the Death Penalty meets a higher threshold — 10 percent of the state’s registered voters, or 113,883 signatures — to suspend the repeal of the death penalty until the vote occurs.
This spring, the Nebraska Legislature overrode a veto by Gov. Pete Ricketts to repeal capital punishment. In response, the pro-death penalty group launched a petition drive to hold a referendum to retain the death penalty.
Ricketts and his family were among the prime financiers for the signature collection effort. The Republican governor contributed $200,000 in the first two months, and his father, TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts, gave $100,000.
Two weeks ago, Nebraskans for the Death Penalty turned in petitions containing 166,692 signatures, which appears to be more than enough, even when some signatures are disqualified, to suspend the repeal.
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Source: Omaha.com, Paul Hammel, Sept. 12, 2015
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