Medical Pot Petition Circulators Challenge 5%/38 County Rule

     The group leading the initiative petition drive to put a measure legalizing medical marijuana on the November ballot Nebraska is suing the state to try remove a requirement that makes it harder to have a successful drive..

     Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana filed the suit in federal court Monday with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska.

    The Nebraska constitution sets out the number of petition signatures needed to make the ballot, but also requires signatures from at least 5% of registered voters in 38 of the state’s 93 counties.

      The lawsuit argues that the counties vary widely in population and the 5% rule “gives disproportionate influence to voters in sparsely populated counties.”

      As an example, it takes a lot fewer signatures to reach 5% in Arthur County than in Douglas, the state’s most populous. 

     Backers say a single voter in Arthur County has about as much power as 1,216 Douglas County voters on meeting the 5% threshold, diluting the votes of residents in urban areas in violation of the Supreme Court’s one man, one vote ruling.

       Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana has been scrambling since losing one of its biggest donors, forcing the campaign to rely primarily on volunteers instead of paid signature gatherers.

       They have until July 7 to turn in roughly 87,000 signatures from registered voters and the group says while they have over 25,000 signatures, they’ve reached the 5% mark in only 4 of the required 38 counties.