Signature effort concludes, Campaign gears up

Sig PetNebraskans for the Death Penalty will be submitting their signature petitions to the Secretary of State at 3pm today, and will hold a press conference along with it.

Leavenworth St. will update here as the news goes up.

**UPDATE at 3pm**

Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 3.01.03 PMSignature Petition signers get over 160,000 signatures.

Needed about 114,000 to stop the Death Penalty repeal from going into effect.


@NE4DeathPenalty has said that they (likely) have the 57,000 signatures to get the issue on the ballot in November 2016, but have been mum about whether or not they will be able to put the new law repealing the Death Penalty on hold. That would take about 114,000 signature.

As we have noted before, the CW is that you need/should have around 15% more signatures than you need, to insure against contested sigs, etc. The computers tell us that number puts the “desired” tally around 131,000. OWH reporters are Tweetering that @NE4DeathPenalty peeps are getting an additional 1,000 signatures TODAY, to bolster their position.

Considering those numbers, efforts, and press conferences, it would seem likely that they will be over the 114,000 mark. The question is just “by how much?”

There has been some info that says they are up to at least 150,000 and that they have validated, on their own, more than 120,000 — seeing validation amounts around 75%.

We won’t be surprised to see them hit that number, or even better.


All of this says they have put out the very difficult, and expensive, effort to get where they need to be on this.

And of course this is only Step 1.

Paul Hammel of the OWH was Tweeting that the five to six weeks it will take to verify signatures could mean LEGAL questions could pop-up about the Death Penalty in the mean time.

Back in the Law School days, the prof would point out that the issue of Ripeness arises first. In other words, if there ain’t a REAL issue before then, no one will pay attention to an imagined question. The Governor and AG would have to a) Get the drugs required and then b) Press forward to put someone to death before the signatures are counted.

Which won’t happen.


But the Death Penalty questions will get more heated as the campaign rolls along. The OWH recently gave two opposing views in their Opinion Section a whirl. The first, J. Kirk Brown — he of the recent dustup regarding the Heineman admin pursuing the Death Penalty — gave the Pro stance. Retired Judge Ron Reaganinterviewed on The Wheels Down Politics Show a few weeks back — gave the Anti stance.

Interestingly, Brown gave essentially the same opinion as Jonah Goldberg gave when I spoke to him on The Wheels Down Politics Show. That is, the questions of cost, and deterrence, and sentencing advantages and fairness, are all side questions to the main one regarding the Death Sentence: Do some people deserve the ultimate penalty for certain crimes?

Brown endeavors to answer that question.

Judge Reagan, on the other hand posits that the main reason for sentences are to deter crimes. Reagan literally chuckled on my show at the idea that the Death Sentence is a mere “punishment”. But as Brown, Goldberg and others have pointed out, if deterrence is REALLY your goal, you can come up with much better deterrents than jail or even death. Heck, go to the middle east where theft can cause you to lose your hands. Or maybe Malaysia where littering can get you a caning. Those are probably pretty effective.

Now you can certainly disagree that death is an appropriate punishment for certain crimes. (And there is also a decent argument that there should even be a higher standard than “beyond reasonable doubt”.)

But the punishment question is really the ultimate question in the Death Penalty debate, that must be answered before all others. All the rest are side questions.


  1. bynd says:

    If the fix to the what -drugs- to- use problem is administrative, why has that not accomplished? Certainly it would be easier and more efficient than to obtain drugs from overseas that seem to have a plethora of issues with them. I’m for the vote but the above is big red flag that something is not right and being hidden from the public.

  2. Macdaddy says:

    The petition is only step one. Step two is getting it to pass plus turning out those liars in the Unicam. Let the challengers step up. For the first time in my life, I will contribute to a political campaign.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Oh joy. Nebraska just embarrassed itself once again to the rest of the country. Just how much money total did Pete spend to make this happen?

  4. I’m not a death penalty fan, and doubt, regardless of the outcome of this initiative, that Nebaska will ever execute anyone again. What this demonstrates graphically, though, is how much of an aberration our current Unicam is. If this helps the ‘throw the bums out’ movement, i’m all for it.

  5. Anonymous says:

    This is so fiscally irresponsible! How much money did this waste? Nebraska has only executed 3 people in the last 30 years, and we have no way of executing anyone in the future. Think of all the other things this money could have gone to that would actually make this state a better place!

  6. bynd says:

    I find it sad that someone actually believes that the citizens exercising their right to act as the second house in Nebraska, which is how it is suppose to work, finds that embarrassing. Obviously, they don’t understand, this is not about the death penalty, it is about the right of the populace to determine what the state policy will be. I’m sure the same anonymous was not embarrassed when the minimum wage petition was passed. If you accept the system for one, you must accept it for all.

    I lived most of my life believing the death penalty was good policy. However, I realized several years ago, it is a farce in the way it has evolved and not worth the effort. I still believe that it could be changed into an effective tool, but do not believe that is realistic.

    As to Rickett’s involvement, you don’t lose rights when you get elected to office. But then, the left is about suppression of freedom of speech etc. It will be a relevant argument when applied to all politicians. Not just the ones you disagree with.

    It would also seem that the locals put in far less money than those from out of state with their agenda. Which to me is a much more egregious action.

  7. Anonymous says:

    You know what they say about people who assume. I’m a registered Republican embarrassed by my state because they have now shown the world our top priority is to spend as much money as possible on something we don’t even have the means to do – murder people. Yay us. I wasn’t happy about the money wasted on the minimum wage petition either. I’m a fiscal conservative who wants our government to stop wasting our money on stupid shit. Oh, and all these “second house” voters? They’re the same ones you complain about being “low information” voters when they don’t vote the way you like.

  8. Anonymous says:

    ….which is why the death penalty repeal had no fiscal note. No savings whatsoever by getting rid of executions.

    And having the still pimply 21 year old Matt Maly be the main conservative against the death penalty was NOT a good idea

  9. Anonymous says:

    What’s next for Jessica? We were all so worried, because the death penalty is so very crucial to all our lives. I mean just the other day I was wide awake worrying whether the death penalty would be repealed. Never mind high taxes, government corruption or even those annoying Christian values…..give me death or give me….death.

  10. bynd says:

    My favorite saying, your system is perfectly built for the results you get. I’m not sure what it matters but I am an ex republican, libertarian and now independent. And the only reason I am the last one is I’m too lazy to go change it. In any case, to have one action be an embarrassment is is puzzling in that your system has produced what you built it to produce. And quite frankly, the whole thing should be embarrassing.

    Actually what happened today is a great example of democracy working in it’s prescribed form in this state. Where else can you see such an example of the people speaking and overriding those they elected to speak for them. Beautiful.

    As for low information voters, if they have a D or an R after their name, then they are the low information voters. Partisans who have built the system they denigrate most of the time. How quaint.

    So far there has been very little government money spent on this process. And since it is constitutionally legal, it would seem the legal system should have by now figured out how to make it happen. It’s those pesky activist judges who keep gumming up the works.

    So I don’t see where any of the two parties members have anything to complain about. Because change needs to start in the parties and that’s not going to happen. So if the whole thing doesn’t embarrass you, them something as small as this is a pimple on an elephant’s butt.

    But once again, it isn’t about the death penalty, it’s about the citizen’s right to vote on the issue. If you can’t go with that, you probably shouldn’t be involved at all. Your blood pressure can’t take it.

  11. To the Benchwarmer State Senator says:

    You have a 165k reasons to worry now. Even Murante knew this was a bad issue. Voting with Chambers is never a good idea

  12. I’m anything but a Brad Ashford fan. But a letter in today’s LJS, from a Merle Myers, attacks him for “his trip to Israel and speaking engagements at synagogues”. I’m not surprised a local Democrat is taking his inner Nazi out for walkies. I am surprised a reputable newspaper would publish it.

    Oh waint, it was the Lincoln Journal Star. Never mind.

  13. Pete @ anon 8/26 851pm says:

    You can say “Passing it is something else” all you want, but you know as well as I do that this initiative will pass with 60%+. The hard working men and women running the campaign for the death penalty are going to do what they do. They’ll show up to work every day and work like they always have, and then they’ll win.

    Now, you can argue and post a comment about how wrong you think I am. You can say how many Republicans you know who won’t vote for it and blah blah, hell you might even go for a personal attack on me. That’s all great, but I’ll say it again: you know as well as I do that this initiative will pass with 60%+. The anti death penalty folks may as well pack it in the way Domina should have after the primary.

    Matt Maly can stay as optimistic as he wants, and the Sorros funded group’s public messaging can be as chipper as they want, but deep down they know that their goose is cooked. Right or wrong, the death penalty will stand in Nebraska because that’s the way we want it.

  14. Congratulations Pete from above says:

    Once the death penalty is back on the books please enlighten me as to how we will carryout an execution. It’s never going to happen. I’m just glad we have our priorities straight.

  15. Matt; you have 30 votes in the legislature because the legislature is totally out of sync with the voters. Next year, with a presidential election turning people out, and the death penalty campaign firing people up, a lot of those senators are going to find out how out of sync they were.

  16. Pete says:

    Congratulations on 30 votes in the legislature.
    Nebraskans for the death penalty got 5556.4 times as many signatures on petitions. The death penalty will stand in Nebraska, because that’s the way the people want it.

  17. Pete says:

    It certainly wasn’t the vast right wing conspiracy, and it sure as hell isn’t the evil Koch brothers funding your ill-fated campaign.

  18. Anonymous Lawyer says:

    Sweeper, not so fast at the legal point. For murders committed during the period of uncertainty, the courts may have to consider whether death was an authorized punishment at the time of the act. So, it’s not a question of whether executions are attempted in the interim, but what punishment is authorized for offenses committed in the interim.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I’m sure our governor, who has a vested interest in the death penalty, will take care of actually carrying out the executions.

  20. bynd says:

    As I said, I have no love for the death penalty. But Matt would do well to not support his position with half truths. Not all are as gullible as him.

    The death penalty is not a deterrent. Despite what the esteemed ex judge states, it is not the objective of the death penalty to deter crime. It is punishment for a heinous crime above all others.

    There is no religious aspect to the death penalty. Jesus never sought or even considered getting involved with the Roman government to try and stop crucifixion. Something he had a vested and intimate interest in.

    How many have been wrongly convicted? First of all, it has not happened in Nebraska. We don’t sentence enough to have such major screw ups. Want to bring up the Beatrice 8? They weren’t sentenced to death. They were exonerated. Which brings up a final point. The reason we know that some are wrongly convicted is because we have a much better system today than we had even several years ago. If they can find the wrongfully convicted from decades ago, it is hard to see how wrongful convictions would be that plausible these days.

    I do believe that the cost to execute is greater than life in prison. However, that has to do with the dysfunctional legal system made up of men and women with their own biases. Why should anyone avoid a just punishment because the system can not come up with a way to fulfill their constitutional responsibilities? Wouldn’t it be great if we could apply that logic to paying our taxes?

  21. The Grundle King says:

    The rallying cry for the anti-death penalty crowd has been, “Decline to sign!” for the past couple of months. One has to believe that, if they had ANY confidence they could win a vote of the people, they’d save their money for the election and just say “Meh” when it came to the petition effort. They would, in fact, welcome a vote. I have a feeling they knew that, if this made it out of the petition process, their battle was lost.

    And as I’ve said before, I’m relatively neutral when it comes to reinstating the death penalty…but what I do demand is that our representatives (i.e. the people who are supposed to ‘represent’ us) actually LISTEN to us and act accordingly. If legislators had any doubt that they were adequately representing those who voted for them, they could have spearheaded an effort to have the death penalty put on the ballot without involving the petition process. Instead, they inserted their own personal judgment…voters be damned.

  22. Prediction time says:

    Let’s say that all the signatures are valid. Let’s say the death penalty is back. If a legislator is smart, he/she will introduce legislation for an alternative method of execution this session lest he/she be banished to the real world where no one buys ice cream and adult beverages after the day is done in the session.

    I suspect the voters may not forget those who voted for repeal and now have been shunned in an oh so humbling manner.

  23. bynd says:

    From Above: Does that mean you practice as(s)tro projection?

    Today a judge in Tennessee ruled that single drug can constitutionally to carry out the death penalty. It is constitutionally legal, the system will figure it out. Someday:)

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