Unicameral bill could make it easier to remove signatures from petitions

Feb. 1, 2024, 9 a.m. ·

Hera Varmah expresses her support of Linehan’s bill to the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee at a legislative hearing Wednesday. (Photo by Brian Beach/Nebraska Public Media News)

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A bill that would make it easier for voters to remove their signatures from petitions was heard by a legislative committee on Wednesday.

State Senator Lou Ann Linehan was the lead sponsor of a bill passed last year that authorized tax credit-funded scholarships to private and religious schools. An opposition group called Support Our Schools then collected enough petition signatures to put repeal of the law on this November’s ballot.

Linehan says she heard from some people who misunderstood the Save Our Schools Petition drive and wanted to remove their name from the list of signees.

Under the current process, voters must sign a notarized affidavit to make that happen.

Linehan, who introduced the new legislation, says her bill would only require voters to send a letter to the Secretary of State’s Office to remove their name.

Hera Varmah with the American Federation of Children, a school choice advocacy group, says she supports the bill because it would make it easier for people if they initially misunderstood a petition.

“If you're a voter who has signed the petition, and you later learned that the petition sponsors are lying to the voters and harassing young people in the process, you might not want to have public affiliation with the organization,” she said. “That would be another good reason to make it easier to remove your signature.”

Jacob Carmichael, who volunteered to circulate the Save Our Schools Petition, opposed the bill, arguing most people who signed the petition were well-informed.

“The idea that it's this super easy process, and people are doing it accidentally, or aren't getting access to equal information, I really feel like is not something that's necessarily going on,” they said.

Representatives from Civic Nebraska, League of Women Voters and Nebraska Civic Engagement Table also testified against the bill, saying that it could enable people to harass voters to remove their signatures from petitions.