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Group Claims Illegal Petitioning

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Scott Lea

OMAHA (KPTM) -- The right to petition is guarded by the First Amendment, but one Nebraska group claimed Wednesday a group of petition collectors are getting signatures illegally.

The issue in question is a petition drive for an amendment making it unconstitutional for the state to consider gender or race in employment or education.

Critics said it essentially ends affirmative action and will have unintended consequences.

Those same critic said petition drive organizers are breaking the law to get their issue on the ballot.  During a six week period, Nebraskans United collected video and audio evidence it said shows petition fraud.

"We would like those who advocate changing the Constitution of the State of Nebraska to comply with Nebraska law as they try to do so," said David Kramer of Nebraskans United.

Nebraskans United said petition circulators are breaking the law. It said they're filling out information for people signing petitions, misleading voters by not reading a required statement, and leaving signature sheets unattended.

All of those actions are illegal according to state law.

"These people are paid by the signature and Nebraskans need to be aware of that and be skeptical before they sign," said Kramer.

Nebraskans United said not only are petition organizers getting signatures illegally, they're also pushing an initiative that will hurt the state.

"They've got a solution for a problem that doesn't exist here in Nebraska," said Kramer.

Doug Tietz, a member of the group pushing the initiative, said the video doesn't support Nebraskans United's claims.

"Desperate times call for desperate measures and they'll do anything at this last minute," said Tietz.

Tietz said poll numbers collected Tuesday show 71 percent of Nebraska voters support the initiative.  It's a voice he said opponents are trying to silence.

A voice he says opponents are trying to silence.

"(critics) believe in racial preferences and that people should get jobs based on certain physical characteristics and that's wrong.  Nebraskans know better and should have the right to vote," said Tietz.

Tietz would not give an exact figure on the number of signatures collected so far.  115,000 signatures must be collected by July 4th to get the initiative on the November ballot.

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