Eighth Circuit Reinstates Nebraska’s Multi-County Signature Rule

Lincoln, NE (July 6, 2022)  A federal court has dealt a blow to some of the 16 petition groups gathering signatures for their efforts to place issues on the November Election Ballot.

The Eighth U.S. Circuit of Appeals ruled Wednesday that the state of Nebraska can enforce its multi-county rule for signatures, at least for the time being.   The Appeals court  granted the State’s request to place a stay on the preliminary injunction entered by the trial court on June 13th. The trial court’s decision prohibited the State from applying Nebraska’s multi-county signature requirement, which requires ballot initiative sponsors to obtain signatures from 5% of the registered voters in 38 of Nebraska’s 93 counties.

The Eighth Circuit’s ruling means the State can now apply its multi-county requirement when signatures are submitted Thursday. The Eighth Circuit will fully address the legal issues at a later date.

A Group hoping to place medical marijuana on the November ballot obtained an order in mid-June blocking the rule, claiming signatures in small, lightly populated counties were given more weight by the rule than signatures obtained in more densely populated areas such as Lincoln and Omaha. The higher federal court said its ruling will remain in effect until a full hearing can be held.

Petitions currently in circulation, and their complete text, can be found here.