Almost everyone intends to vote. But any number of unforeseen reasons – school, work, family, health – can prevent us from casting our ballots despite our best intentions. That’s why in the run-up to Election Day, you’ll often hear calls to make a plan to vote. In essence, it means to mind the calendar, plan for contingencies, and be specific.
Here are some things to consider as you build your own plan to vote.
Before Election Day
Every plan starts with making ABSOLUTELY sure that you are registered to vote. Check your status with the Nebraska Secretary of State. Even if you’re pretty sure you’re on the rolls, it doesn’t hurt to double-check. Plus, it’s quick and easy.
Fully review candidates, issues, and measures on the 2022 ballot. Your vote is more powerful when you make informed choices. Sample ballots will begin appearing in early October; we’ll post them at our 2022 Election Central hub for your convenience. We’ll also be adding to our 2022 edition of DECODING THE BALLOT, which will delve deeply into what’s on the ballot this year, as Election Day gets closer.
Make your voting plan
Ideally, this should go beyond saying “My plan is that I plan to vote.” Many Nebraskans will vote early from home, thanks to our state’s no-excuse absentee ballot option. This has worked enormously well since the onset of COVID-19 concerns, driving high participation in the 2020 primary and general elections, the 2021 Lincoln and Omaha municipal elections, and the midterm primary this past May. In fact, May’s vote was an all-time high for a Nebraska gubernatorial primary election.
Usually, a general election draws roughly twice the voters of a primary. While the U.S. Postal Service delivered 99 percent of mail ballots on time in 2020, we suggest the “Three Rs” approach – Register (if you have not yet), Request (your mail-in ballot by Oct. 14), and Return (your mail-in ballot no later than Oct. 28) to give our Postal Service workers as much cushion as possible.
Of course, there is more than one way to cast your vote early in Nebraska. You can also go to your county’s election commission office and vote early in person. That option is available starting Oct. 11 and ends at the end of the business day on Nov. 7.
To review, here are Nebraskans’ two early voting options:
Voting in person on Nov. 8
If your plan is to vote on Election Day, polls will be open from 8 am to 8 pm Central Time (7 am to 7 pm Mountain Time) across the state.
Be sure to build adequate time into your schedule for the day. Identify a specific time that you will go to the polls, and strive to meet it. Reserve the time on your calendar and/or set a reminder on your smartphone.
Double-check your polling place. It’s possible that polling places have moved since the last time you voted in person. Go here to double-check.
Consider transportation and weather. Early November can be unpredictable, weather-wise, in Nebraska. The average high is 57 and the average low is 33, but we’ve gotten everything from snowstorms to thunderstorms in early November in recent years. So be sure to have a Plan B if your first transportation option falls through.
- How am I getting to my polling place? Am I driving? Do I have reliable transportation in bad weather? Do I need someone else to drive me?
- Should I carpool with a friend or a neighbor? (Pro tip: Planning to vote in person with a friend helps ensure you both vote.)
- How much time should I set aside for travel, parking, etc.?
- Should I bring a coat (in case lines stretch outside my polling place’s building) or something to snack on while I wait?
Know your rights. Voting is our most important and precious of democratic rights. If you or someone you know is denied a ballot for any reason, we need to know about it right away. Call our Election Protection Line at 402.890.5291. We’ll have attorneys on hand all day to assist and advise you.
Here are more day-of, in-person voting facts and resources:
Celebrate! It’s time to bask in the awesomeness of participating in your democracy. Nebraska law permits “ballot selfies,” meaning you can take a picture of yourself voting, and/or of your ballot if you want to.
Share that you voted on social media. This helps remind everyone in your social network to vote if they haven’t yet. Help spread the joy of voting this year – your democracy will love you for it.