Election administration clarifications adopted

The Legislature passed a bill May 8 that changes how legislative vacancies are filled.

<a href='http://news.legislature.ne.gov/dist49' target='_blank' title='Link to the website of Sen. John Murante'>Sen. John Murante</a>
Sen. John Murante

Currently, when a legislative seat is vacated, the governor appoints a person to serve in that seat. If the vacancy occurs more than 60 days prior to any general election, then that seat would be filled permanently by the candidate who wins the election, which could include the appointee. If the general election occurs in less than 60 days from the vacancy, the appointee serves the rest of the term.

LB451, introduced by Gretna Sen. John Murante, creates a new graduated system of deadlines for filling legislative vacancies that occur in the second year of a term. As amended, if a vacancy is created:
• on or before Feb. 1, the appointee is subject to election in that year’s primary and general elections;
• between Feb. 2 and May 1, the appointee is required to file a petition to appear on the general election ballot; or
• after May 1, the appointee will serve the remainder of the legislative term before being subject to election.

If a vacancy occurs on the University of Nebraska’s Board of Regents during the first year of a term or before Feb. 1 of a general election year, the appointee will be subject to election. If the vacancy occurs after Feb. 1 of an election year, the appointee will serve the unexpired term.

Candidates filing for political office are required to file a statement of financial interest before March 1 of the year in which the election will be held, or before filing for election, if the filing deadline is after March 1. Failure to do so will result in the candidate not appearing on the ballot.

The bill also changes from July 1 to June 15 the date in even-numbered years that certain political subdivisions must certify the political offices to be filled in an upcoming election. The provision applies to each reclamation district, county weed district, village, county under township organization, educational service unit and public power district with an annual gross revenue of less than $40 million.

Finally, the bill makes several technical changes to the delivery and returning of early voting ballots.

The bill includes provisions of LB314, also introduced by Murante, which lengthen the time before an election during which a city must file a proposed economic development plan with the election commissioner or county clerk. The plan must be filed no later than 50 days prior to a special election, no later than March 1 prior to a primary election and no later than Sept. 1 prior to a general election.

The number of days prior to an election that an election notice must appear in the relevant newspaper also is increased from 40 to 42. In addition, the bill allows the secretary of state to use general funds for maintenance and security of the state’s centralized, computerized voter registration list.

The bill passed on a 48-0 vote.

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