Civic Nebraska moves to intervene in AG’s lawsuit on appointed election officials

Civic Nebraska filed the intervention motion Nov. 26 on behalf of a voter in Lancaster County, one of seven counties that have appointed election commissioners.

by

Civic Nebraska has moved to intervene in Attorney General Doug Peterson’s constitutional challenge to the appointment of county election officials in Nebraska’s largest counties.

Civic Nebraska, which has asserted the state Constitution intends for those county officers to be elected, filed the intervention motion Nov. 26 on behalf of a voter in Lancaster County, one of seven counties that have appointed election commissioners.

“It is the constitutional right of Nebraska citizens to choose the officials who run their elections,” said John Cartier, Civic Nebraska’s director of voting rights. “It is also the right of individual Nebraskans to have a say in the legal process that likely will determine how their elections will be administered for years to come.”

In September, Peterson issued an Attorney General’s Opinion on the practice of appointment, deeming it “constitutionally suspect.” Peterson then sued to ask the high court to resolve the matter. 

However, the state Supreme Court directed the lawsuit to Lancaster County District Court after the AG’s office and the defendants – Nebraska’s secretary of state and the election commissioners in question – missed a Nov. 5 deadline to agree on a common set of facts related to the lawsuit.

Cartier said that when it comes to laws that govern Nebraska’s elections, individual voters have the same stake, if not greater, as the state. That is why Civic Nebraska is moving to intervene on their behalf, he said. 

Civic Nebraska first considered challenging the appointment practice in 2012, following a dispute involving closures of several polling places in Douglas County, he said.

The statutes in question require counties that reach certain population thresholds to allow the governor or county boards to appoint county election commissioners. Election commissioners in three counties – Douglas, Lancaster, and Sarpy – are appointed by the governor, while county commissioners do the appointing in Buffalo, Cass, Hall, and Platte counties. The seven counties make up nearly two-thirds of the state’s registered voters.

Civic Nebraska asserts that these statutes are in violation of Article IX, Section 4 of the Nebraska Constitution, which discusses “necessary county officers” and plainly states that those officers are to be chosen by voters.

Civic Nebraska raised the constitutional issue in a June letter to the attorney general. In that letter, Civic Nebraska cited two previous state attorney general opinions as well as established case law to justify a constitutional challenge.

State Sen. Matt Hansen of Lincoln officially requested Peterson issue a formal opinion on the matter.

Want to stay updated on this case? Bookmark our FAQ/Timeline page here

Leave a Reply

  Subscribe  
Notify of

Locations

  • Lincoln Administrative & Program Office
    1111 Lincoln Mall Suite 350, Lincoln NE 68508
    402.904.5191
  • Omaha Office
    6400 University Dr., N CEC 117.12, Omaha NE 68182-0708
    402.554.3584
  • Contact Us

After School Programs

  • Sherman Elementary School

    5618 N 14th Ave.
    Omaha, NE 68110
    402.457.6711

  • Lewis and Clark Middle School

    6901 Burt St.
    Omaha, NE 68132
    402.557.4300

  • Lothrop Elementary School

    3300 N. 22nd St.
    Omaha, NE 68110
    402.457.5704

  • Campbell Elementary School

    2200 Dodge St.
    Lincoln, NE 68521
    402.304.1165

  • Lincoln High School

    2229 J St.
    Lincoln, NE 68510
    402.436.1301

  • Lincoln Northeast High School

    2635 N. 63rd St.
    Lincoln, NE 68507
    402.436.1303

  • Randolph Elementary School

    1024 S. 37th St.
    Lincoln, NE 68510
    402.436.1163