An emergency meeting occurred Friday morning with the Antelope County Commissioners to remedy unlawful actions taken less than 24 hours earlier.
County Attorney Joe Abler advised Chairman Tom Borer that removing the agenda item to set the date of the special election to recall him and fellow commissioner Allan Bentley and moving that decision to Sept. 3 would put the county in violation of state law.
“Today the board by a 3-2 vote, removed an agenda item that was essential for the board to take action upon to comply with the law regarding the political subdivision (the board) ordering/setting a date for a recall election. This was despite my attempt to advise the board that it needed to make a motion and vote to set the date of the recall election for the month of October, 2019, more specifically, October 15, 2019,” Abler stated in an Aug. 22 letter to the chairman.
Four members of the board — Bentley was not present and could not be reached for a telecommunication presence — voted 4-0 to set the election for Oct. 15, 2019.
“The board created an emergency today by its unlawful actions and needs to immediately remedy it accordingly,” Abler stated in the letter.
According to Neb. Rev. Stat. 32-559, the election commissioner is required to legally publish the official date of the election set by the board at least 50 days prior to the election. Abler stated that by waiting until the Sept. 3 meeting, "it cannot lawfully set the election for October 15, 2019" because it would not allow the commissioner the legal time to comply with the statute.
"Otherwise if the election commissioner continues to attempt fulfilling her statutory obligations, any further action would violate the election laws," Abler stated.
The decision of whether the election is by mail or at the polls will be decided by the county’s election commissioner, Lisa Payne. Payne said she is working with the Nebraska Secretary of State’s office and will likely announce that decision next week.