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Election Denial in Nebraska

  • 0 Election Deniers currently hold statewide office with election oversight power.

  • 4 Election Deniers have held, or run for, statewide office since 2020.

The landscape in Nebraska

Nebraska voters rejected two Election Deniers in the 2022 Republican primary. One of them, Charles Herbster, had promoted outlandish conspiracy theories about election fraud and was at the rally that preceded the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Herbster lost the primary to Jim Pillen, who was ultimately elected Governor.

Nebraska is also among the states that have restricted donations to support funding for election offices. Many of these bans trace their origins to a conspiracy theory about Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. It was one of the many conspiracy theories pushed by Herbster.

Secretary of State Bob Evnen, a Republican, has pushed back, point by point, against lies about Nebraska elections. He also said he saw “no justification” for a full audit or hand recount of the state’s 2020 election results, as some skeptics have called for. One such skeptic brought a failed lawsuit against all 93 county election administrators and an election software company, leveling vague accusations of fraud. 

One of Nebraska’s Representatives was among the 147 members of Congress who voted to overturn 2020 election results.

0 Election Deniers hold statewide Office right now.

Elections are run by the states. In Nebraska, the Governor, Attorney General, and Secretary of State are the state officials responsible for overseeing elections. It’s up to them to make sure the will of the people is always respected.

Read more about The Roles of Our Elected Officials in Elections

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How Nebraska compares

Every state runs its own elections, with its own laws and processes. Check out how Nebraska compares with other states in its region when it comes to Election Deniers holding state election administration jobs.

Voter turnout over time

Voters are always the backstop against election denial, whether Election Deniers are already in office or vying for power. It’s important to turn out for every election in your state—and to vote in every race on your ballot. Downballot races, like contests for Attorney General and Secretary of State, have historically drawn fewer voters, even though the positions are critical to keeping elections free, fair, and secure. Here’s a look at voter participation in Nebraska elections over time. Notice that in years with several important positions up for election, some voters choose not to vote in every race.

Voter Participation in Nebraska Since 2016

Attorney General
Secretary of State
  1. 2016 Presidential

    • President had a 63% voter turnout rate

  2. 2018 Midterm

    • Senator had a 51% voter turnout rate

    • Governor had a 51% voter turnout rate

    • Attorney General had a 38% voter turnout rate

    • Secretary of State had a 49% voter turnout rate

  3. 2020 Presidential

    • President had a 70% voter turnout rate

    • Senator had a 68% voter turnout rate

Voter turnout

Data on the number of votes cast in each race are from state elections depositories, supplemented with data from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), House Election Statistics, and The Book of States. Rates are calculated using the Census’s Citizen Voting Age Population (CVAP) estimates. Rates will be updated when the Census releases new CVAP data for 2022.

Beyond the ballot box

Each year, state legislators introduce thousands of bills related to elections. And in the past few years, we’ve identified a concerning trend. Across the country, state legislatures are considering bills that would make it easier for partisan actors to manipulate an election, and maybe even overturn the will of the people. We’re tracking these bills along with our partners in an ongoing series of reports called “A Democracy Crisis in the Making.” In 2023 alone, through early May, we tracked 185 bills introduced in 38 state legislatures that would politicize, criminalize, or interfere with elections. 

The anti-democracy playbook is simple: change the rules and change the referees, in order to change the results. These bills go hand-in-hand with the Election Denier movement: They’re about taking power away from voters and making it harder for trusted election officials to do their jobs.

Read the full report

Legislative Interference in Nebraska by Category

As of May 3, 2023, 2 bills had been introduced or were under consideration in Nebraska. None have been enacted or adopted and none have been vetoed after passing.

These bills show that the threat to elections in Nebraska, and all across the country, goes well beyond the ballot box.

  • Imposing disproportionate criminal or other penalties.
    These bills would create or expand penalties for election officials in the ordinary execution of their jobs, including criminalizing inadvertent mistakes.
  • Creating unworkable burdens in election administration.
    These bills would interfere with the basic procedures of election administration, increasing the risk of chaos and delay and enabling misleading claims of irregularity.
  • Usurping control over election results.
    These bills would give legislators or other state officials direct control over election outcomes.
  • Requiring partisan or unprofessional election “audits” or reviews.
    These bills would establish vague post-election review schemes without the professional standards of traditional audits.
  • Seizing power over election responsibilities.
    These bills would shift election administration responsibilities away from professional, nonpartisan officials and toward partisan actors in the legislature.