Lawmakers try to amend recall process

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January 31st, 2011

Omaha, NE – Nebraska Lawmakers are trying to make it more difficult to put a recall election on the ballot. The effort comes in the wake of the unsuccessful recall of Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle.

Three bills were heard at the Capitol Friday. The first two, introduced by Omaha State Sen. Brenda Council, would increase the number of signatures required to put a recall on the ballot and make residents who didn’t vote in the election ineligible to vote in the recall. Kent Bernbach is a resident of Elkhorn, who assisted in the Suttle recall drive. He said the current threshold of 35% of the number of voters who cast ballots in the last election, was already tough enough, and the process works under the current rules.

Sen. Council proposes increasing the number of signatures required to start a recall election (Photo courtesy Nebraska Legislature)

“The process did work. The people on the recall side didn’t get a recall but the point was made,” he said. “That’s good for government. It’s when there’s that political discourse out there that people have to look at it.”

Bernback said the number of signatures should rather be lowered, and added that the bar forced his group to hire paid petition circulators instead of relying on volunteers. A third bill introduced by State Sen. Bill Avery of Lincoln would make recalls only eligible in the case of crimes. Sen. Council said if those were the conditions, getting a recall on the ballot would actually be easier.

“I would submit to you that if misfeasance and malfeasance had been the basis of the Omaha mayor recall, they wouldn’t have had difficulty paying circulators… because misfeasance and malfeasance gets the attention of even the apathetic voter.”

Lawmakers took no action on the bill before they adjourned, and will likely resume the hearing next week.

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