Nebraska Recount Laws

This information was initially released on October 21, 2010 and updated in October 2012.

Voting System Used: 

Paper ballot (optical scanners, hand counted paper ballots, or a mix)

For more details, visit Verified Voting.

Counting Method: 

Mix of recount and retabulation Nebraska statute requires that recounts be conducted using the same procedures “as those used for the counting of ballots on election day,” and further specifies that where “vote counting devices” (that is, optical scanners) were used on election day, they must be used again. As all jurisdictions in Nebraska currently use optical scan voting machines, this means that ballots are retabulated by machine. However, if “substantial changes are found” during a retabulation, the ballots may be recounted by hand. See the Nebraska Revised Statutes, Chapter 32, “Elections,” Section 32-1119, “Automatic recount; when; waiver; procedure,” Subsection (6):

Initiating Mechanism: 

Close vote margin Candidate-initiated

Close Vote Margin: 

Less than or equal to 1% A close vote margin may initiate a recount for both primary and general elections. Nebraska uses a method to calculate their close vote margin that differs slightly from many states. The difference in votes received by the apparent winning and runner-up candidates is not divided by the total vote, the total votes cast for the respective office, or the total votes received by the top two candidates. Rather, the difference is divided by the number of votes received by the apparent winning candidate. This lessens the probability of a close vote margin recount in Nebraska with respect to states that have otherwise similar close vote margin requirements. There are two different close vote margin requirements for candidates. For those contests in which more than five hundred votes are cast, the margin is “one percent or less of the votes received by the candidate who received the highest number of votes for the office.” For those in which five hundred or less votes are cast, the margin is “two percent or less of the votes received by the candidate who received the highest number of votes.” There is no mention made of a close vote margin for ballot questions or initiatives. See Section 32-1119, Subsection (1). Additionally, Nebraska has specific provisions should a recount (either automatic or candidate-initiated) end in a tie. For most offices, the winner is chosen by lot, but for Governor and other offices in executive departments, the Legislature chooses the winner. See Section 32-1122, “Recount; tie vote; determination of winner”: Timing: The recount is to be made “as soon as possible after the adjournment of the county canvassing board.” See Section 32-1119, Subsection (4).

Candidate-Initiated Options: 

Any apparently defeated candidate in a primary or general election may petition for a recount. See Section 32-1121, “Recount requested by losing candidate; procedure; costs”: Timing: For candidates for the Legislature, recount requests must be filed no later than the fourth Monday after the election. See Section 32-1118, “Legislature; recount; petition; bond; Secretary of State; powers and duties”: For all other candidates, recount requests must be filed no later than ten days after the canvassing board convenes. See Section 32-1121. For all statewide candidates, the recount must commence on the fifth Wednesday after the election and shall be certified before December 20th. See Section 32-1119, Subsections (3) and (4).

Cost for Candidate-Initiated Recounts: 

Initiator pays deposit or bond before recount Payer of costs depends on outcome of recount The Election Commissioner, County Clerk, or Secretary of State, as appropriate, determines an estimate of the recount costs after the candidate files, which the candidate must then pay before the recount begins. If the candidate initiating the recount is determined to be the winner of the election, all costs paid will be refunded. See Section 32-1121. Separate statutes govern recount fees for candidates to the Legislature. Such candidates may also recoup attorney's fees, up to $5,000, if the recount determines them to be the actual winner of the election. See Section 32-1116, “Election contests and recounts; costs and attorney's fees”:

Challengers and Observers: 

Party/candidate or initiator has statutory authority to appoint observers No statutory guidance for recount challengers Vote counting in Nebraska is explicitly not public: “All other persons shall be excluded from the place where the counting is being conducted except for observers authorized by the election commissioner or county clerk.” See Section 32-1013, “Centralized location; watchers; counting board members; oath; authorized observers,” Subsection (3): However, political parties may appoint an observer to be at each counting location. See Section 32-1013, Subsections (1) and (2).

Rules for Determining Voter Intent: 

No statutory guidance provided While Nebraska has no laws that specifically discuss voter intent, there are a number of statutes that define what kind of mark constitutes a valid vote. See for instance Section 32-901, “Ballots; voting procedure”:>

Audit Laws: 

Nebraska does not have audit laws.