The May 2, 2023, Lincoln municipal election proceeded without major incident Tuesday, as Star City voters were choosing a mayor, a majority of their City Council, three seats on the public school board, and two of five seats on their local airport authority.
Civic Nebraska trained and deployed about two dozen Election Protectors to observe precincts around the capital city and has responded to several queries to its day-of Election Protection Line, 402-890-5291. Through 4 pm Tuesday, Election Protectors reported steady in-person voting with no urgent concerns.
Early feedback from observers and the Protection Line included:
›› During morning in-person voting at the Air Park West Recreation Center, 3740 NW 46th St., an election observer witnessed a man in what appeared to be a security guard uniform with a holstered firearm entering the facility. The voter in question made no threats and left the polling place without incident after voting. While Nebraska prohibits concealed handguns at polling places, state law does not prohibit the open carry of firearms at a polling location unless otherwise prohibited by that location.
›› Throughout the day, a small number of voters have presented their early mail-in ballots at their day-of, in-person polling place. Early mail-in ballots must be dropped off at the Election Commissioner’s Office at 601 N. 46th St. by 8 pm CDT. If a voter who had originally requested an early mail-in ballot insists to vote in person on Election Day, election workers may provide a provisional ballot, known as the “ballot of last resort.” However, provisional ballots are tallied only after being verified, which can take several days. Obviously, voters can only submit one ballot, and only one ballot will be counted.
›› A few voters noticed language on return envelopes for early mail-in ballots about an “anticipated change of statute” that resulted in just one available county dropbox – again, at 601 N. 46th St. This appears to be language from the 2022 statewide primary election. Leading up to that election, Lancaster County removed several dropboxes from Lincoln city libraries and other locations around the city after determining they would not be compliant with new statewide security standards for ballot dropboxes. Because the language correctly directs voters to Lancaster County’s current official dropbox north of the Election Commission on R Street, no action was required.
“All reports indicate a smooth, successful election for the City of Lincoln,” said Heather Engdahl, director of voting rights at Civic Nebraska. “Democracy is built from the ground up, which is why local elections are so important. Thank you to Lincolnites for participating in their democracy, and thank you to Lancaster County election workers for their efficiency, expertise, and utmost professionalism.”
As with every election, citizens raised a handful of concerns about electioneering, specifically about campaign signs near polling place entrances. Nebraska law prohibits any signs, buttons, stickers, t-shirts, or other partisan materials within 200 feet of a polling site. The only exception is if a campaign sign is on private property that lies within 200 feet of the site, and that property is not part of the polling site.
For answers to frequently asked questions, visit Civic Nebraska’s Election Central hub at CivicNebraska.org/election-2023.
Polls close at 8 pm CDT. If voters are still in line to vote at 8 pm, they are by law entitled to vote. General election results will be posted by the Lancaster County Election Commission starting at 8 pm CDT.