Ruling Could Open Door To More Petition Drives

Omaha, NE (AP) ~~ A ruling by a federal judge in Nebraska could make it easier for petition-drive organizers to place statewide initiatives on the ballot.

U.S. District Judge Joseph F. Bataillon struck down a state constitutional requirement Monday that had forced petition circulators to travel outside of large urban areas for signatures.

To qualify for the ballot, petition circulators were required to visit at least 38 of Nebraska’s 93 counties and collect signatures from at least 5 percent of the registered voters in each.

Omaha businessman Kent Bernbeck challenged the requirement in court, arguing that it effectively makes rural votes more valuable than urban votes. Nearly half of the state’s population lives in five counties in the Omaha area.