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Death penalty ballot clarified

Posted at 10:28 PM, Oct 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-11 23:37:09-04

When voters go to the polls in November, they will decide the future of capital punishment in Nebraska.

The death penalty is on the ballot under Referendum No. 426. It will ask voters to decide if Nebraska should have the death penalty or abolish it. 

There will be three public hearings for people to attend and ask questions or give opinions. The first one was at the UNO campus on Tuesday.

“We had a statute, LB268, passed by the legislature, repealed by the governor, and then it was overridden by the legislature, and a group of citizens created a petition drive in order to not only put it on the ballot but state the effectiveness of the law,” explained Nebraska Secretary of State, John Gale.

That series of events means voters will now have the say over the state death penalty law, but LB 268 passed by the legislatures makes the language on the ballot read a little different.

When you go to vote you will see "retain" or "repeal."

If you want to keep the current laws that abolished the death penalty you need to vote for “retain.”

If you are pro-death penalty and want to repeal the current law then you vote “repeal.”

“”It is a question of do we retain that law that abolished the death penalty or do we repeal that,” said Gale.

Gale also said that making sure voters understand the language is important because it will affect if they vote come November.

During the forum both sides of the issue addressed their stance.

“It is about keeping in ineffective, immoral punishment in our past,” said opponent Mathew Fowler. 

“Without the death penalty there is no certain way Nebraska to say somebody will not get out and do harm to society again,” said proponent Rod Edwards.

The next public hearing will be October 13th in Kearney, and the last one will be October 18th in Lincoln.