Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts had until to Monday to submit the signatures. The group says it isn't giving up and will continue with a lawsuit that asks to extend the deadline.
The group says backers of the nuclear plants have spent millions on misleading ads and other tactics aimed at stopping them from collecting enough signatures.
Ohio lawmakers in July approved a roughly $1 billion financial rescue for two nuclear power plants in northern Ohio. The owner of the plants say they would be forced to close without the money.
But the state's natural gas industry says the move puts it at a disadvantage.
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