Lincoln, Nebraska — Nebraska voters may get a chance in November to vote on whether to expand the state’s Medicaid program. Organizers of a petition submitted today say they turned in more than 135,000 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office, in hopes of putting the measure on the ballot.
“Because of the volume of petitions circulated in connection with the ballot issue, we’ve hired temporary workers, who will be assisted by members of the elections staff within my office,” explained Secretary of State John Gale.
“To qualify a statutory measure for the ballot, circulators must collect signatures from at least 7 percent of Nebraska’s 1,203,832 registered voters,” explained Gale. “Those signatures must include at least 5 percent of registered voters from 38 of the state’s 93 counties.”
Organizers must collect 84,268 valid signatures to put the measure on the November ballot.
Petitions will be numbered and sorted and should be processed within two weeks from today. They will be sent by certified mail or hand delivered to the appropriate county election official for verification.
Once in the hands of county election officials, the printed name, address, birthdate and signature of each petition signer will be compared with information provided in the voter registration system. The officials will also check to make sure that petitions weren’t signed multiple times by the same individual. If a voter registration is invalid or the information provided by the signer is incorrect or not complete, the signature is not counted.
Gale said that county election officials also check to make sure the circulator’s oath is signed and that each petition page is notarized, in addition to other issues that might invalidate the signatures collected.
County election officials will have 40 days from the date they receive the petitions to get through that process. The Secretary of State can grant an additional 10 days to a county, if needed.
While the petitions are processed, the state Attorney General’s office will start drafting the language that will appear on the ballot in November.
Gale said that his office would be able to follow the progress of each county as to how many signatures were accepted or rejected. “Once we’ve heard from all 93 counties we’ll notify the petition sponsors.”