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For immediate release: Contact: Ben Kiser
September 10, 2002 402-471-8675

Secretary of State Concerned by Discussion to Call Special Session to Place Constitutional Amendment on the Ballot

Lincoln--"I am concerned by the comments made recently that attack the very foundation and integrity of the election system in Nebraska," said Secretary of State John Gale. "I find fault with attempts to jam issues on to the November ballot at this late date through a legislative special session. Any such attempt would simply turn our election system on its head. The whole system would have to be changed to accommodate just a few ballot issues. The electorate should not be deprived of the sensible and well-considered steps in the election laws that ensure that our elections are fair and honest."

"I do not care who is bringing the proposal or what the issue is that is at stake, what is important to me as the Chief Elections Officer is that the sanctity of the election process is upheld to the best of my ability," said Secretary Gale.

The deadline for the Nebraska Legislature to submit ballot language for a Constitutional Amendment was July 4, 2002 and September 13, 2002 is the deadline for the Secretary of State to certify the state ballot for the November 5, 2002 General Election.

"Neither of these deadlines could possibility be met by calling the Legislature into special session unless these laws were drastically changed. In addition, absentee ballots must be available to voters beginning on September 30. A growing percentage of voters cast their ballots by mail using an absentee ballot, including members of our service men and women. It is possible that this ballot measure would be left off some absentee ballots requested soon after September 30 or that the law would be changed making it more difficult for overseas voters to participate in the election - in fact, taking away their right to vote on this measure."

"This process has been established by the Legislature to provide deadlines and time tables that allow the system to function, and to allow a reasonable opportunity to educate the voters on the issues. It provides an opportunity for Nebraskans to be effective voters in a fair and reliable system."