The COVID-19 health emergency has created new challenges for proponents of a ballot initiative that aims to put an independent citizens commission in charge of drawing voting district maps.

With people avoiding contact at grocery stores, and big gatherings postponed indefinitely, Gavin Geis, executive director of Common Cause Nebraska, says getting the nearly 121,000 signatures required to make the November ballot hasn’t been easy.

But Geis says a coalition is pressing ahead with efforts to stop lawmakers from being able to cherry pick voters.

“The current process is backward,” he points out. “When elected officials are in charge of how these maps are drawn, they get to choose their voters, and voters lose their power to effectively elect the people they believe in.”

If passed by voters, the proposal would create a nine-person independent citizens commission to oversee the redrawing of district maps.