Early voting for May’s primary election is underway, and in the wake of the coronavirus Nebraska counties are readying for in-person voting on May 12.
The deadline to apply for mail-in ballots is 6 p.m. Friday.
ope体育In Hall County, more than 10,500 mail-in ballot requests have been received, said Hall County Election Commissioner Tracy Overstreet.
“We’re probably over 11,000 now,” she said. “We got quite a few in the mail today.”
It is a record number for the county, outpacing the 2016 general election, which had 5,786 early ballots.
Overstreet sees it as a positive sign.
“It means a lot of people are excited about voting,” she said. “I also think people are wanting to get mail ballots because of the COVID situation and I think that’s a positive thing, because it will keep fewer people at the polling sites, which will mean a safer environment for the poll workers and voters who do come to the polls.”
ope体育The increased demand has doubled the office’s workload.
“We’ve added some computer stations to process all of the requests,” Overstreet said, “and we’ve had to get additional envelopes ordered and things like that.”
ope体育Processing should happen more quickly on election day, though.
“We’ll have a lot of the results counted in our first batch of results that come out,” Overstreet said.
ope体育Already, Hall County has had 35% turnout from early voting.
ope体育“We’ll be somewhere around 40 to 45% when all’s said and done,” Overstreet said. “Usually in a primary we have about 35% total turnout.”
In-person voting will still take place on May 12.
One polling site has been moved. Formerly at Golden Towers, Precinct 10 will now vote at First Christian Church, 2400 W. 14th St.
“They’ve had some COVID cases (at Golden Towers), so we did not want to have our workers nor the voters in that environment,” Overstreet said.
ope体育Among precautions being taken for the day: poll workers will wear masks and gloves, with the option of face shields; hand sanitizers for voters; voters will get a pen to take with them; social distancing marks will be set at 6 feet apart; and booths will also be distanced.
There will be enough poll workers for the election.
“We’re in pretty good shape,” Overstreet said. “We’ve had a lot of poll workers drop out and we’ve had a lot of people step up to backfill those positions.”
Overstreet applauded those willing to volunteer for the day.
“Grand Island is a very supportive community, and I think a lot of people have seen the need and they’re filling the need,” she said. “I couldn’t be prouder of Grand Island.”
Hamilton County is already readying for in-person voting on May 12.
ope体育The county has 6,600 registered voters, according to its website.
ope体育For Precincts 7 and 8, and all three Aurora city wards, voting will take place at a single site: the Aurora fairgrounds, Farr Building, at Eighth and A streets.
ope体育Precincts 1 through 6 only do mail-in voting and receive their ballots automatically. Roughly 2,600 total ballots were sent out.
“As of Thursday night we’ve mailed out about 1,600 early vote ballots from the other precincts,” said Election Commissioner Jill M. DeMers. “We’re starting to get them all back.”
She added, “We’ve had an overwhelming response, which is just what we wanted.”
Hamilton County is taking the same precautions as Hall for in-person voting.
They’re also getting a new official ballot drop box for outside Hamilton County Courthouse, which will be accessible at all hours.
ope体育Concern is just as great in Hamilton County to prevent community spread, DeMers said.
ope体育“We will have a polling place and take all the precautions,” she said. “I think it’s probably really similar all through the state the precautions we’re taking.”
Considerations have not begun for November’s general election, Overstreet said.
“There will be other things that happen before the general election,” she said. “We’ll have petitions to verify from over the summer, and we’ll go from there.”
She added, “We’re just getting this first goal done.”
Friday is the last day to request a ballot to be mailed to you.
All early voting ballots must be received by the county election office before 8 p.m. May 12.
ope体育The Nebraska primary is scheduled for May 12 with polling sites open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.