Chaney’s attorney Scott Lautenbaugh told judges the 2009 Lancaster County District Court ruling that Otte relied on left too much room for interpretation by circulators.
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“We think that opens up a Pandora’s box as to what is an adequate summary,” Lautenbaugh said.
Requiring that the petition’s purpose statement be read in its entirety would provide a “safe harbor” for broadcasters and signatories, he added.
Judge William Cassel asked whether Lautenbaugh considered the purpose statement to be read in its entirety if a circulator inadvertently missed a word – even something as small as “the”.
Omaha’s attorney and former state senator said the court may set a level of “substantial compliance” that circulators must adhere to when reading the object statement.
Arguing for Evnen, Assistant Attorney General Ryan Post said Lautenbaugh’s suggestion that reading the purpose statement in its entirety in order to prevent fraud ignored other mechanisms put in place by the law.
While there is no way for broadcasters to ensure that signatories read the petition before adding their signature, Post said the information was available to them on the petition if they chose to read it. or if they thought the broadcaster hadn’t given them all the information.