Preparing a Ballot Argument

The Nevada County Elections Office has prepared this information to assist citizens who may wish to submit arguments in favor of or against a ballot measure.

Word Count Rules


Ballot Arguments: 300 words. EC 9162, 9315, 9501.

Rebuttals: 250 words. EC 9167, 9317, 9504.

Punctuation: Punctuation is not counted.

Count Per Word: Each word shall be counted as one word except as provided in this section. If the text exceeds the word limit, the author will be asked to delete or change a sufficient number of words or sentences until the statement is within the required word limit.

State law mandates that all Candidate Statements of Qualifications are printed uniformly in the Sample Ballot Booklet. (This law does not apply to ballot arguments or rebuttals). Bolded, CAPITALIZED and underlined words are not acceptable. Indentations or multiple underscoring will not be allowed. Items in a list will not be allowed unless the list comprises a paragraph (i.e.: separated by commas within a paragraph).

Geographical names: All geographical names shall be considered as one word; for example, "Nevada County" shall be counted as one word.

Abbreviations: Each abbreviation for a word, phrase or expression shall be counted as one word.

A group of initials shall be one word. For example, BSA, LLB, PhD, U.S.A.F., NAACP, NATO, mph, and AFL-CIO shall each be one word. In a person's name, consecutive initials shall be counted as one word. For example, "J.B. Jones" shall be two words, but "John B. Jones" shall be three words.

An abbreviation shall be counted as a word. For example, "Mr." or "Sr." shall each be one word.

A title such as "Lt. Col." shall be two words.

A contraction shall be counted as one word, e.g., "I'm" or "we're."
Use of hyphens: Hyphenated words that appear in any generally available dictionary shall be considered as one word. Each part of all other hyphenated words shall be counted as a separate word.

In the event of a conflict between dictionaries, the rule is this: If the different elements of a hyphenated word can stand alone, the hyphenated word shall be counted as being as many words as there are elements, otherwise it shall be one word. For example, "self-governing" and "president-elect" would be two words each, whereas "anti-federalist" and "co-opted" would be one word each.
Dates: Dates consisting of a combination of words and digits shall be counted as two words.

A date such as "June 19, 1979" shall be counted as two words. A hyphenated time period such as "June 21 to March 7, 1980" shall be four words.

Dates consisting only of a combination of digits shall be counted as one word.

A date such as "6 per 19 per 79" shall be counted as one word. A hyphenated time period such as "1980 to 1990" shall be two words.
Numbers and Symbols: Any number consisting of a digit or digits shall be considered as one word. Any number which is spelled, such as "one," shall be considered as a separate word or words. "One" shall be counted as one word whereas "one hundred" shall be counted as two words. "100" shall be counted as one word.

Numbers in numerical form shall be one word, e.g., $16,000,000, 10-1 per 2, 378.2, or 75%. However, if they are written out, they shall be as many words as are involved notwithstanding hyphens. For example, "two hundred sixty-four" shall be four words.

A number or letter used to identify a portion of a text shall be one word, e.g., "1" or "a."

A symbol, except when used as part of a number, shall be counted as one word. For example, "&" and "c/o" shall each be one word.