With a hotly contested Republican governor’s race drawing voters to the polls, top state and county election officials predict about one-third of eligible voters will cast ballots in Tuesday’s primary election.
Secretary of State Bob Evnen, the state’s top election official, expects 35% turnout based on early votes cast and recent history. He said there had been 227,679 early ballot requests and 122,679 ballots returned as of Friday.
A wave of nearly 8,500 new Republican voters, with about 10,900 fewer Democratic and nonpartisan voters, could be a signal that many voters switched in hopes of weighing in on the GOP governor’s race, which appears too close to call between the top three candidates.
In addition to the governor’s race, Nebraska voters will also be nominating candidates to replace former U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, a Republican convicted in March on charges he lied to federal authorities about an illegal campaign contribution. Even though he has resigned and withdrawn as a candidate, his name will appear on the primary ballot. Democrat Patty Pansing Brooks and Republican Mike Flood will face off in a special election on June 28 to finish out his term and both hope to advance from the primary to the Nov. 8 general election.
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Voters will also choose a new attorney general and state auditor. And Evnen is being challenged by two Republicans who believe there was illegal voting in the 2020 election in Nebraska.
There are five Southeast Nebraska legislative districts on the ballot, and only one race features an incumbent.
Lancaster County Election Commissioner Dave Shively predicts about 37%, or 74,000 voters, will cast votes. Although all of the Lancaster County offices, including three of the five County Board seats, are on the ballot, many county races are not competitive.
Contested races include the Republican ticket for the District 3 Lancaster County Board seat where incumbent Deb Schorr is being challenged by former Lincoln Board of Education member Matt Schulte and Panama Mayor Travis Filing.
In the county treasurer’s race, either Jasmine Gibson or Tracy Refior will become the Republican nominee to compete against Democratic incumbent Rachel Garver in November.
On the Democratic ticket, Public Defender Joe Nigro faces challenger Kristi Egger.
One candidate each will be eliminated in the Southeast Community College Board of Governors District 5 race and the Lower Platte South Natural Resources Subdistrict 1 race.
Shively said there were 40,750 requests for early vote ballots in Lancaster County, and about 29,000 had been returned as of Friday.
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:
How do I know where to vote?
Go to the State of Nebraska VoterCheck site at votercheck.necvr.ne.gov and click on “Polling Place.” Or call your county clerk/election commissioner’s office.
Can I still return my early vote ballot?
Early vote ballots in Lancaster County can be delivered in person to the Election Commission Office, 601 N. 46th St., by 8 p.m. Do not mail your ballot or return it to your polling place Tuesday.
Can I vote if I did not re-register?
Yes, if you have a voter registration on file, you can go to your new polling place on Election Day. You will be asked to complete a new registration form, and your ballot will be sealed in an envelope.
Do I need a voting card to vote?
No, the card is for information only and does not need to be presented to election officials to vote. No identification is required to vote.
How do I track my ballot or know it was accepted?
Check the Voter Information Center, votercheck.necvr.ne.gov/voterview, on the Secretary of State’s website to track the status of your ballot, including when your ballot was sent, returned and its status.
What if I asked for an early ballot, but didn’t receive one?
If you happen to lose a ballot, ruin it or have not received your early ballot by Election Day, you can still vote with a provisional ballot at your polling place.
Are polling places handicap-accessible?
Yes. You can ask for your ballot to be brought to your car if it is difficult for you to get into the polling place.
Can voters receive assistance in voting?
Voters who cannot read, are blind or have a physical disability may request assistance in marking their ballots. The voter may have a friend or relative help, or he or she may request the assistance of two election board workers, one each of a different party.
In addition, a voting machine will be available at each polling location. Visually or physically disabled voters can use it to mark ballots in private and unassisted.
Can someone pick up a ballot on my behalf?
If you are unable to go to the polls, another person can pick up an early vote ballot on your behalf until 7 p.m. at the county election office. It must be returned by 8 p.m.
What’s against the rules?
* Campaigning or handing out political literature within 200 feet of a polling place, except on private property.
* Wearing political badges or insignia into a polling place on Election Day.
What if I want to report a problem or have a question?
Contact your county clerk/election commissioner or the Secretary of State’s office at 402-471-2555 or 888-727-0007.
How can I get more information about candidates?
The Journal Star Voter’s Guide and earlier campaign and election stories are available online at JournalStar.com. Coverage will continue on the Journal Star’s website through and beyond Election Day.
What if I have questions not answered here?
Lancaster County residents who have questions should contact the Lancaster County Election Commission Office at 402-441-7311. The Secretary of State’s office is at 402-471-2555 or 888-727-0007.
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