FREMONT – Nebraskans all over the state opened their mailboxes this week to find a yellow postcard labeled, “OFFICIAL WARNING,” that went on to falsely claim that by signing a petition, voters are opening themselves up to felony charges and discrimination.
“This is a common scare tactic,” used against issue campaigns like the current signature drive to place a medical marijuana initiative on the 2020 ballot, said State Senator Adam Morfeld out of Lincoln, one of the sponsors of that initiative.
Multiple states with popular initiative signature drives have seen similar postcards go out to voters in their states. These latest cards can be contributed to an organization or individual calling themselves the “Alliance For The Pure Life.” This organization or person has not filed disclosures with the state to list their contact information or other details, and they don’t appear to have a website or any social media presence.
The mailer makes five separate misleading claims:
“Your name becomes easily accessible for anyone to view on the internet.”
“Third parties like corporations and political parties will purchase your name and information to telemarket your phone number and send you junk mail.”
These claims are misleading. Most of this information is already public through voter registration databases, which are public record by law. Corporations and political parties do use that information – that much is true. Companies called Direct Mail and the Data & Marketing Association (DMA)are two of the largest providers of consumer information to direct marketers, and they gather their information from public records like voter registration, along with phone directories, club memberships, credit applications, and even the USPS itself.
The average person will find it very difficult to access the personal information included on petitions.
“Applications may be rejected if cross-referenced with any petitions you’ve signed. You may be discriminated against for publicly voicing your opinion on an issue.”
This claim is misleading. There are no records of an applicant for a job, credit, loan or other contracts being denied because of their petition signer status. As stated above, it’s hard for the average person to find the information included on petitions, and an employer would have to specifically obtain that petition information and cross-reference an applicant’s name with it. It’s not impossible, but there are no reported instances of this happening.
“If petitioners do not read you ALL the language on a petition that you sign, you can be charged with a class IV Felony by falsely swearing to the petition affidavit.”
Not true. Petitioners need to read you the entire object statement on the petition, by law. If they don’t, the petitioner can be charged with a crime – but not the signer. All signature-gatherers are trained very seriously to ensure that they read every signer the object statement, every time.
The only time a petition signer can find themselves in legal trouble is if they sign or provide someone else’s name or address. Don’t misrepresent yourself, and you’ll be in the clear. There is no record of any legal action against anyone for signing a petition in the state of Nebraska.
“Your private information is at risk when you sign a petition.”
Not true. You’re providing information on a petition that’s already a matter of public record, since you have to be a registered voter in order to sign a petition. You’re not risking anything by using your constitutional right to petition your government, and you shouldn’t hesitate to exercise that right.