LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — Three different advocacy groups turned in petitions Thursday with different levels of optimism that their key issue will make the Nebraska general election ballot.
For the last year and a half, 16 different petitions have been seeking the well-over 100,000 signatures they needed to take their issues to the voters. Some of those petitions have seen more success than others.
Raise the Wage Nebraska brought in well over the required amount of signatures to make the ballot.
More than 160,000 Nebraskans signed the petition that, if passed, will raise the minimum wage by $1.50 every year until it reaches $15 an hour in 2026.
They weren't the only ones having big success in gathering signatures. Voter ID backers brought in a large number of ballots.
"We have the data on our side. The fear-mongering on the other side just isn't backed up by the data, which shows consistently that Voter ID and election security doesn't affect turnout," said Nebraska State Senator Julie Slama.
TheNebraska Voter ID campaign saw significant turnout for its petition, gathering over 172,000 signatures.
Voter ID measures have been controversial nationwide. Critics argue it's a solution in search of a problem. In Nebraska, only two cases of voter fraud have been found in recent elections. Both occurred in 2017 in Dawson County.
Similar Voter ID measures have been challenged in court in other states. Slama said she and the campaign are prepared to defend their initiative in court if they need to.
"I think the voice of Nebraskans is overwhelmingly in support of this measure, but whatever party wants to waste their resources in a lawsuit to nowhere, I'm more than happy to take them on," said Slama.
One group that will closely watch whether its cause makes it on the ballot is Nebraskans for Medical Marijuana, as it's still an open question.
In 2020, with significant donors behind the effort, it reached the signature goal before being disqualified by a judge.
In 2022, the group did not have the funding for paid petitioners. That change in funding looks to have been the key difference in the two campaigns as the group made a last-minute effort to turn in as many signatures as possible.
They ultimately turned in over 90,000 signatures for each of their petitions but it's unclear, once checked by election officials, if those will hold for the 87,000-plus signature threshold and if it will pass Nebraska's requirement of enough signatures in 38 of the state's counties.
The petition drives are only the first step in turning these ideas into laws, and now it is up to the voters to decide what will become law in November.
The Secretary of State's office still needs to verify signatures on all the petitions.
That determines which issues will make the November ballot.