A geographical comparison of death penalty politics in Nebraska

H. Jason Combs, Emma Neil, Paul R. Burger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This particular study provides a brief history of the death penalty in the United States and evaluates in more detail the death penalty in Nebraska. Information regarding Nebraska’s legal position on the issue is provided, but this study goes beyond that to spatially examine recent vote patterns regarding the death penalty. The geographical breakdown demonstrates how Nebraskans vote compared to their elected officials in the legislature’s single chamber known as the unicameral, which was implemented in 1937. In 2015, with support from liberal Democrats and moderate Republicans, unicameral members voted for life imprisonment to replace the death penalty, a measure which also withstood the governor’s veto in an override vote (LB268). In 2016, Nebraska’s citizens by a wide margin (60.6 percent of Nebraskans voted in support of the death penalty) retained the death penalty with Referendum 426. Four unicameral members were also voted out of office in 2016; history demonstrates that outside of term limits sitting senators are rarely replaced. All four had voted against the death penalty but resided in districts that supported the measure, and three of the four were Republicans replaced by Republicans. Ultimately, Nebraska’s citizens decided the state’s stance on the death penalty, which supports long-time Nebraska politician George Norris’ contention that elected officials would be held accountable by the people.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalPennsylvania Geographer
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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