Inside the signature collecting process

IMG_0938 (1)The signature petition process to get reinstatement the Death Penalty on the November 2016 ballot has ended.

It is nearly certain that with 166K signatures boxed, they will meet the approximately 59,000 signature threshold.

Then there was the issue of getting repeal itself put on hold. That takes around 114,000 signatures, with meeting that 10% threshold in 38 of the 93 counties. They not only met that number, AND hit the 15% mark above that — which many see as the point needed to reach to go over the “bad signature” mark — they topped that amount by another 55,000.

When you are involved in this type of endeavor, you see trends. Things are different in the urban areas than rural areas. Different between big and small towns. Different at different events.

So here is some info gleaned from folks involved within the signature petition process.


They had great success in Madison, Norfolk, Columbus and Stanton.
The were generally 300-400% over the 10% goal in those areas. You will remember that the deadly 2002 bank robbery took place in Norfolk, and folks in that area have long memories.

They also did well in Grand Island, Hastings and Kearney.
Dodge and Washington counties were also very good.

In general, the signature-getters found that county fairs were very productive. (For instance, this was especially so in the Scottsbluff area.)

Areas outside the two metros of Omaha and Lincoln had more events during that period which brought in signers.

However, in the metros, they didn’t have that advantage during the time period. No Creighton basketball games. No Husker football games. No Septemberfest.

In the end, the organizers decided to concentrate on area where they knew they could capitalize on collecting signatures, and capitalize, they did.


So because of that…

Douglas and Lancaster Counties were not overarching in reaching their 10% numbers. Both may ultimately meet the 10%, but it will be seen if they end up with that, after any knock-outs. Sarpy reached as well, and will likely stay at the 10%, but that could be close.

But, meeting 10% in the largest counties is also tougher than some others, when you can’t count on a large turnout at something like a county fair.

Because of that, the collectors didn’t concentrate on Douglas and Lancaster. They went where there were better concentrations for signatures, and events where they could get more signatures.

In the end, to reach the 10% goal, they needed 10% in 38 counties.
They got that in 70 of the 93.


And the more anecdotal stuff…

Many give a lot of credit to state Senator Mike Groene. They note that he made it a personal mission to not only collect signatures, but to look at WHERE he was collecting them.*

So he and other volunteers (on their own volition — NOT at the direction of Nebraskans for the Death Penalty) went specifically to counties where Senators who voted for repeal lived. They wanted to show that the vote of Senators who voted for the Death Penalty repeal wasn’t necessarily representative of the feelings of their constituents.

State Senators Matt Williams, Mark Kolterman and Laura Ebke, they are looking your way.

*[UPDATE: Since this original post went up, I spoke with Senator Groene, who wanted to make it clear be clear about his process of collecting signatures. He stated that he did NOT go to Senator Kolterman or Ebke’s districts soliciting signatures, as might be interpreted from the statement above. He stated that to the extent that he got signatures from Senator William’s constituents or in his district, it was part of the process of getting the maximum from the county, as opposed to “targeting” a certain Senator. Which isn’t to say he didn’t want to get signatures from the districts next door. But Leavenworth St. has heard from other volunteers making a specific effort in other districts.]

Signature seekers found a lot of anecdotal evidence that their constituents are NOT happy with their votes. (The folks in the Crete area, particularly peeved with some of the non-responsiveness.)


What will happen next will be fascinating.

Stopping the Death Penalty in big red Nebraska was seen as a major turning point for the anti-Death Penalty movement. Stories were written about it worldwide.

To see it get a 180 slam from the actual people of Nebraska — as opposed to convincing 30 state Senators — would be a crushing defeat to the Anti folks.


Do not count on them going quietly into that Good Night.
Do not count on them taking a defeat lightly.
Do not count on them bringing bean-bags to this political fight.

If they lose the Presidential vote, but win the Death Penalty vote, they would gladly take that trade.

Gird yourself for the ensuing fight accordingly.


  1. Sparkles says:

    Inside the signature collecting process..
    You’ll find Pete Ricketts checkbook, and a brash defiance of the Catholic church.

    Friday, March 20, 2015 –
    Capital punishment “contradicts God’s plan for man and society” and “does not render justice to the victims, but rather fosters vengeance.” is a method frequently used by “totalitarian regimes and fanatical groups”
    – Pope Francis

    And some late breaking news –
    A team of forensic experts has discovered the undercover Planned Parenthood videos that spurred a congressional investigation were so severely manipulated that they wouldn’t hold up in court.
    Even the supposedly unedited “full” footage is misleadingly altered.

    What a surprise.
    (noted with great sarcasm)

  2. Anonymous says:

    Let’s keep these petition numbers in mind the next time a state senator – Laura Ebke, for example – tries to explain away a position on – I don’t know, how about Winner-Take-All – with the “voters in my district aren’t contacting me about this issue” excuse.

    Limited Government does not mean limited responsiveness to citizens’ questions about government.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Never ceases to amaze, the contortions the Paulistas have to make to defend their matron.

    No one cares about her race or gender, or her opponents for that matter. We do care that she continues to place common sense conservative ideas in a basket to float down the river while flipping the bird to anyone daring to question her on it.

  4. Anon says:

    What?? You’d rather have the death penalty reinstated in Nebraska than have a Republican president elected in 2016? We don’t even have any way to execute anybody anyway. Sheesh. Priorities people.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Sparkles–which leftist group is paying you to post on this blog? Your post makes you look like a fool–you go after the death penalty which results in the death of a horrible criminal in Nebraska every 10-20 years, then come to the defense of Planned Parrenthood which kills thousands of completley innocent human babies every single day, then chops them up and sells their parts to the highest bidder! What does the Pope say about that?

  6. TexasAnnie says:

    The Nebraska electorate, as opposed to 30 votes in the unicameral, is the real voice of Nebraska. If this petition passes (potential) court challenges, and the death penalty is electorally reinstated, that result may be another example of WHY a single-house legislature is foolhardy!

  7. Anonymous says:

    The Catechism of the Catholilc church. Death Penalty. “Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if it is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor. ” 2267. Abortion: “Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable.” 2271

  8. repentinglawyer says:

    Anonymous at 2:48, While it is true that the Church has opposed all procured abortions, it did not fully settle on the view that early and late abortions were equally evil until the 19th century and even into the late 20th Century the view was less a doctrinal matter and more probalistic moral guidance for the faithful. The idea that the Church teaching included a rule about legality of abortion is not much older that the opposition to capital punishment with John Paul II being a central figure on both issues. The opposition to early abortion is closely related to the teaching on birth control, which does not usually draw a lot of cheers. The current magisterium on death penalty is penalty does not satisfy the condition today in US and Europe, so Catechism quote is not a help in NE debate, and you, in any event, need an argument for necessity, and a narrower death penalty that was tradition in NE.

  9. Ken says:

    The whining and crying by the death penalty repeal people is really funny to watch. They thought they had their victory won and it was over. Now they act like spoiled children because they have to make their case to the people of Nebraska rather than just 30 state senators. I think they really underestimated the ability of pro-death penalty people to get the issue on the ballot. I have to say even I am pleasantly surprised at the success of the petition drive. I thought all along that getting the issue on the ballot wouldn’t be a problem, but getting the repeal law suspended would be a tall order. That level seems to have been passed relative easily. No matter what happens next November, this is already a rebuke of the Legislature for their decision, and I believe will turn into a slap in the face to them for not listening to the people when we reinstate the death penalty.

  10. Sparkles says:

    You, conveniently, left out the latter part of 2267, which reads:

    “If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.

    Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm – without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself – the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity “are very rare, if not practically nonexistent.”

    Let’s say we compare the reality of modern America with Catholic doctrine.
    More than seven in 10 U.S. women obtaining an abortion report a religious affiliation.
    The abortion rate for protestant women is 15 per 1,000 women, while Catholic women have a slightly higher rate, 22 per 1,000.

    Guttmacher’s analysis of data from the federal government’s National Survey of Family Growth found that the vast majority of American women of reproductive age (15–44) — including 99% of all sexually experienced women and 98% of those who identify themselves as Catholic — have used a method of contraception other than natural family planning.

    And, a highly salient fact when is comes to the governance of a nation as a whole –
    A Pew report released in May, 2015, serves to reinforce the decades long story of a Catholic church in precipitous decline. A church that has lost 3 million members since 2007, and now accounts for only 1 in 5 Americans.
    And even more troubling, for every one Catholic convert, more than six Catholics leave the church.

  11. bynd says:

    It is nice to see that Sparkles is in favor of having the Pope as the theocratic head of the US. How hypocritical though that the she wants religion or faith out of governance until it fits her purposes. What shall we believe are her true values?

    The government is to reward good and punish evil. Be careful, it wields a terrible sword to those who bring judgment upon themselves. For they are the agent of God’s wrath on evil doers. Not the Old Testament.

  12. anon says:

    One only has to look at the past term limit vote to see how this would go. The arrogance of the unicam to not let the people decide this instead of 30. Their attempt to bring term limits this session, and the self-serving debate shows how out of touch they are. I found it hard to believe Ebke never heard much from her voters on this issue, Clinton type lying comes to mind

  13. Sparkles says:

    @ bynd
    Regarding my “true values”.

    Matthew McConaughey, in the character of Rustin Cohle in HBO’s ‘True Detective’ summed it up nicely:
    “If the only thing keeping a person decent is the expectation of divine reward then, brother, that person is a piece of s***. And I’d like to get as many of them out in the open as possible. If you gotta get together and tell yourself stories that violate every law of the universe just to get through the goddamn day? What’s that say about your reality?”

  14. bynd says:

    If you need a TV character to talk for you, then that truly is pathetic. If you need the Pope to talk for you, that is sad. If you need a TV character to denigrate your criticizers and their faith, your pretty much a pathetic and sad loser.

  15. Anonymous says:

    As I said yesterday:

    1. Getting this issue on the ballot is one thing.
    2. Passing it is something else.
    3. Even if if passes, where is NE going to get court-approved drugs to execute with?

    If the DOC can’t get drugs, nobody dies.

    If it changes the drugs used to execute and there is some snag or a legal challenge, nobody dies.

    If the method of execution changes to some method that appears to pass muster in another jurisdiction – electrocution, hanging, firing squad – expect another legal review as that method is implemented in NE and the next time someone is executed. Meanwhile, nobody dies.

    If you attempt to execute someone who was sentenced while the death penalty was legal in NE, the method used was was drugs, and now NE wishes to change to some other method, expect a legal challenge. During which challenge, nobody dies.

    Even if the death penalty is reinstated in NE, nobody is going to be executed any time soon. Not sooner, not later.

    Tell me again why we’re doing this? To let the people decide? Sure, let the people vote. That vote doesn’t place “The People” beyond challenge or correction, does it? And while such challenge or correction takes place by the Courts, nobody dies.

  16. Anonymous says:

    It appears there are some people here who want to just make stuff up when it comes to abortion and the Catholic Church to make themselves feel better. The church says abortion is evil and not allowed. It has NEVER held otherwise. It he church’s position on the death penalty has been historically clear–it is allowed. Even today that is true. The bishops in the US believe we don’t need it in America because we can protect the public from the murderer by spending lots of money keeping them in jail. We can debate that. We just had a prison riot in Nebraska and some high secutity prisoners escaped in New York. Truly dangerous people cannot be completely neutralized even in our country. Thus we can have a political debate on what the bishops concluded. Their conclusion is NOT church doctrine. The doctrine is in the Chatechism. The chatechism says it is allowed in rare circumstances–say maybe once every ten years for a state with a population of 1.8 million! Now that’s pretty rare! On the other hand, there is no room to debate at all on abortion. Elective abortion is wrong here in the US and everywhere. Period. No need to look at the circumstances. No need to debate whether a country has money for other alternatives.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Sparkles–your arguments are absolutely ridiculous. Democrats who read this are cringing because you have illustrated how stupid any attempt at justifying abortion is. You are not even making the best arguments they have (which are not very good anyway). What you illustrate is the danger the Catholic church has in pushing the death penalty to the max–people like you say “Well, I’m with the chuch on the death penalty so it’s not big deal that I’m not on abortion.” Abortion chops up thousands of innocent babies a day. The death penalty kills maybe several dozen heinus and dangerous criminals a year in a country of 350 million. A rare penalty indeed.

  18. anon says:

    Again, if the death penalty is reinstated how will we carry it out? It’s not going to happen ever. We had 18 years while it was on the books and nothing happened. Not one execution will be carried out under Gov. Ricketts. Also, I find it troubling that a sitting governor spent 200k of his own money to overturn a law because he lost. Seems like more of a third world tatic than something that would happen in a state in the USA.

  19. Seriously, Sparkles, you don’t give a rat’s ass about what Pope Francis thinks, unless it’s politically expedient, so why do you expect anyone to take you seriously. It’s called bad faith.

  20. Macdaddy says:

    “And some late breaking news –
    A team of forensic experts has discovered the undercover Planned Parenthood videos that spurred a congressional investigation were so severely manipulated that they wouldn’t hold up in court.
    Even the supposedly unedited “full” footage is misleadingly altered.”

    Sparkles, you mean the forensic experts that were hired by Planned Parenthood? You mean Fusion GPS, a Democrat opposition research firm? Those forensic experts? Yeah, I’m shocked by their conclusions, too. Not.

    You’re 0 for 2 on that post. Do you still get paid if you get pwned?

  21. repentinglawyer says:

    Anonymous at 5:21, Birth control is not allowed under Catholic teaching and that does not lead to the conclusion that it must be outlawed, Catholics are not allowed to have abortions but that it is not the same as a teaching that abortions must be outlawed, though that is apparently the current teaching. While abortion has not been allowed, it was for different reasons depending on the time of the abortion and ideas about delayed ensoulment. To try to reduce this complex history to a standard teaching of ensoulment at birth, all abortions as murder and a duty to work to outlaw abortion is the made up story.With regard to capital punishment, the idea that the judgment of the bishops is a political judgment that Catholics mat debate hardly displays the deference to church authority required by tradition. It is a probable moral judgment that should ordinarily bind in conscience absent strong reason to disagree.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Repentinglawyer, your reasoning fails. Just read the chatechism. Capital punishment is allowed in some circumstances. Numerous saints fo the church carried it out. They did so at a time that prisons existed and could have kept them in jail. They did so because it is clearly biblically allowed. It still is today and that is why the church does not have a hard and fast rule against it. Abortion is allowed in no circumstances and is murder. So is it your argument that Catholics not allowed to commit mass murder, for example, but that is “not the same thing as teaching it must be outlawed”? Of course the church teaching is that mass murder–and abortion (which arguably is mass murder)–should be outlawed. Your reasoning makes no sense and is indefensible–I hope you can recognize that.

  23. The Eye Ball says:

    “To see it get a 180 slam from the actual people of Nebraska — as opposed to convincing 30 state Senators — would be a crushing defeat to the Anti folks.”
    Ho, ho, ho. What have you been drinking? Whatever happens it will be a pyrrhic victory which will make Nebraska look like a vengeful state. Also, why believe anything Governor Ricketts says tax reform and charter schools if he doesn’t put $200,000 down on it?

    Oh, and there still won’t be an execution in Nebraska for years to come.

    $600,000 thrown in the air for no purpose but to express bloody pointless human passion.

  24. Sparkles says:

    Anonymous at 8:25 am

    You state:
    “abortion (which arguably is mass murder)”

    Not at all arguable.
    Not in America.
    The date was January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court decision was an overwhelming 7-2.

    Of course, one doesn’t have to suffer the oppression and disquiet due to the constitutionally protected freedom of a woman’s right to choose.
    May I suggest the following countries, which concur with you beliefs;
    El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Congo, Kenya, Niger, Senegal, Tanzania, Afghanistan, Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Bangladesh, Laos and Sri Lanka.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Sparkles, good luck justifying your open support of the murder of millions of babies and an organization that cuts up babies and sells baby parts to the highest bidder when you meet your maker!

  26. repentinglawyer says:

    Anonymous at 8:25, I am not making an argument, I am reminding you of history of which you appear to be unaware with regard to abortion, as to death penalty you ignore history to deny doctrinal development on the death penalty and fail to note that the Church is entitled to state the more probable position on on moral issue, which is what death penalty is and the Church has done, citing the past on this issue is like citing past disagreement on early or therapeutic abortion, not that different from Nancy Pelosi on abortion. The argument on required legal ban of abortion is not clear and is largely borrowed from the German Constitutional Court which has since changed to an approach like Mario Cuomo

  27. bynd says:


    Nations that allow abortion even after the 20th week, China, North Korea, Vietnam, Singapore. The Romans believed in abortion. We see were they are at today. So did the Babylonians. Now there are two hedonistic and barbaric societies we should all be proud to be associated with. They were just like the USA who believes itself above other countries, ruler and policeman of the world. And pretty much amoral. Anything goes even if it did harm someone else.

    But obviously, you are to far above the commoners of this world to acknowledge their stance on such things.

    However, if you need to compare your country to another to find your morality, then, as we all know, anything goes depending on who is in charge. It also shows that man, contrary to many’s belief, is not born a moral person and therefore not a good judge of morality.

  28. Ferd Berfel says:

    Sparkles, you bait your hook and the idiot fish flock to it. They get angry and indignant. Not sure why. These issues are decided by voters or reps not by us. We have zero control. If we work for a campaign, our investment of time and energy doesn’t make that candidate or issue one bit more or less valid then if we had left it alone. But we feel invested. We feel bad when our team loses. Just like you feel bad now. That is why you went fishing right?

    If you are correct that Ricketts and the Pope own NE votes, then you are screwed. But if they don’t own NE voters, then you are screwed even worse because then Nebraskans sincerely don’t like your position. And if Sweeper is right about metro areas being under-reported then you are super screwed.

    Take comfort in knowing none of us go entirely unscrewed. Every person differs in exactly what they believe is best policy on myriad issues and thus every Husker holds at least one opinion that the majorly of Huskers would love to kill him for. Of course, since you are a jackass rider here among elephants, and also among anti-partisan Huskers who despise the big government you tout, of course you feel that weight.

    You aren’t alone, Sparkles. Nobody here gets everything they want. It’s just that you get so much less of what you want.

  29. CHRIS S says:

    I don’t pray to a woman so I definitely don’t give a flying fuuuuuu…. about what a Pope and the cathlick church thinks. Let’s get ready to grease some evil souls. Oh by the way ever wonder which senators are going to keep their jobs after this?

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