Election Day anticipation, excitement, and anxiety are starting to rise around Nebraska and the nation. With coronavirus on everyone’s mind, Election Night will look a little different in 2020. A massive number of early vote-at-home ballots must be processed, with each state administering those ballots at different points in their processes.
We have great faith in our election officials in Nebraska – they work hard, exhibit integrity, and overall do a great job. As voters, we have a responsibility to do what we can to make Election Night as issue-free as possible. Here’s what we can all do, from now until well after the polls close, to help things go as smoothly as possible.
In Nebraska, counting of early vote-at-home ballots starts 24 hours before polls open on Election Day. That’s 8 a.m. Nov. 2. We all can help flatten the curve for our election workers by having our ballots turned in – and, more importantly, accepted and ready to be counted– as early as we can. That way, we’re not racing against the clock the week of the election if there’s a problem.
After delivering a ballot – and with just days before the election, we recommend NOT mailing it and, instead, directly depositing it ballot in your county’s official drop box – a voter can can watch its status online. That way, at some point in the process, if an issue occurs with a ballot being accepted a voter can see the problem in “live” time and take action to correct it.
If election officials flag an issue with a voter’s ballot – for example, they inadvertently did not sign the back of a return envelope – the voter should quickly to rectify the issue. If an issue is spotted with a ballot or if a voter receives notification from county election officials, the voter has until 8 pm CST on Election Day (Nov. 3) to rectify the problem, otherwise known as “curing” their ballot. If this happens to you, contact your county election commissioner’s office immediately and work with them to learn how your ballot can be “cured.”
There will be an unprecedented amount of noise on Election Day from hundreds, if not thousands, of “official” media outlets, many of which – we’ll just say it – don’t adhere to basic journalistic standards. Voters should be careful to not amplify unverified news from a source that may have a heavy partisan bent. We recommend sticking with trusted news sources. They will be the signal amid all the noise. This is important not only for personal state of mind but also because sharing inaccurate or intentionally misleading information can cause anger, unrest, or other serious issues.
If early-voting figures are any indication, it’s likely that Election 2020 will result in participation such that we haven’t seen in a century, nationally and in Nebraska. This is great news for democracy, but it also means that definitive results will probably take longer than a “typical” election. Some candidates or their proponents may try to exploit our historic tendency of neatly knowing who won shortly after the evening news ends. We recommend caution of any early claims of victory by a candidate, a surrogate, or a campaign.
Above all, keep in mind: The methodical, deliberate, diligent counting of ballots means our system is working – not broken.