Don't Overlook Constitutional Amendments On Ballot

Overshadowed in this year's general election are some issues that could have long term impact in Nebraska.

There are four amendments to the state constitution on this year's ballot.

And each vote potentially carries a little more weight.

In the rush to cast a vote for president or senator, there are circles on the ballot that may fly under our political radar.

Do we fully understand the issues surrounding state constitutional amendments?

"No...I think most people vote internally, whatever their gut says oh I like that idea," Howard Beals said.

As a result, many voters may skip some potentially important local issues.

"Your vote can much much more make a difference in a local election," Amelia Bowen said.

To highlight how much more weight one vote carries in constitutional amendments, according to figures released by the State Election Commission in 2008, more than 800,000 Nebraskans voted for a presidential candidate.

One in seven voters skipped entirely the proposed constitutional amendments.

That dramatically raised the impact of each vote cast.

There are four amendments on this year's ballot.

Amendment one raises the possibility of impeaching an elected official if he or she is charged with a misdemeanor while running for office.

That closes a possible loophole that might have allowed former UNL Regent David Hergert to escape impeachment for breaking campaign laws to win election in 2004.

Amendment two deals with managing and controlling wildlife populations by guaranteeing hunting and fishing rights.

Amendment three calls for changing term limits from two terms of four years to three four year terms for state legislators.

Amelia Bowen researches the amendments before voting.

"They're not high profile like presidential or senatorial races," she said. "But they affect things like your tax rates and how much people get paid to be in the legislature."

That's amendment four. Should members of the Unicameral be paid nearly double their current $12,000 a year salary to $22,500?

Howard Beals said the wording was clear.

"I understood every amendment that was written there," he said. "I could decide what my vote was supposed to mean and I appreciated that."

Amelia Bowen suggests taking the time to read them thoroughly before making a decision.

"Don't leave those ballot places blank," she said.


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