Mike Reilly of the Omaha World-Herald explains the paper’s decision to publish the names of over 28,000 people who signed a petition to recall Mayor Jim Suttle:
… These names are not secret. The petitions are public record under Nebraska law. They are available to anyone who visits the Douglas County Election Commission. Basically, our database gives you convenient access to something you are legally entitled to examine.
Unlike voting, the act of signing a recall petition is an extremely public act.
In our database of names, the newspaper is holding back some information as a precaution against the possibility of identity theft. You will not see individual signatures or individual addresses even though those, too, are part of the public record.
But we have included each individual’s age, political affiliation and middle initial, as well as the home ZIP code.
Read more in the Omaha World-Herald.
A lot of people sign petitions and don’t seem to realize that petitions may be public records, as a recent Supreme Court case reveals.