For Immediate Release
June 14, 2018
Media Contact: Heidi Uhing, (402) 476-8091x104 email@example.com
LINCOLN, Neb. – Secretary of State John Gale has agreed to settle a case brought in federal court by the ACLU's Voting Rights Project, the ACLU of Nebraska, and Friedman Law Offices. The suit challenged a Nebraska law passed in 2016 that established an unusually high burden of over 100,000 signatures required for an Independent candidate to access the ballot. The ACLU charged that the state's burdensome system for non-major party candidates seeking to run for office is unconstitutional and asked the court to prohibit state officials from enforcing it in this year's elections.
The law dramatically increased the signatures required for ballot access, from 4,000 to 121,112, which is 10 percent of the registered voters entitled to vote for the office. This was an increase of more than 3,000 percent and the highest signature threshold in the country. Gale agreed that the law exceeds permissible signature requirements under the First Amendment.
“This is an important victory for voting rights that strengthens our democracy. The swift successful settlement of this case reinforces Nebraska's long and proud tradition of ensuring fair elections and providing a level playing field for all candidates. We are grateful to our clients for stepping up to challenge this unjust law, our esteemed co- counsel for their excellent work, and the reasonableness of state leaders to immediately restore ballot access for independent candidates to ensure Nebraska voters have real choices when they head to the polls to select our state leaders," said Danielle Conrad, executive director of ACLU of Nebraska.
Kent Bernbeck of Elkhorn, a plaintiff in the case, has filed to be considered an Independent candidate on general election ballot for state treasurer. Laughlin McDonald, his attorney, said, “We are pleased that this resolution upholds the high ideals of a vibrant democracy and we look forward to the return of a more reasonable threshold for Independent candidates to be placed on the ballot."
The case number is 4:18-cv-03073.