8 steps to a smooth vote-by-mail experience

Early mail-in ballots for Nebraska’s May 14 primary election will soon land in the mailboxes of voters who have requested them. Here's how to ensure your vote-by-mail experience goes smoothly.

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Early mail-in ballots for Nebraska’s May 14 general election will soon land in the mailboxes of voters who have requested them. Registered Nebraska voters can vote by mail for any reason – Nebraska is among the nation’s “no-excuse” states regarding absentee voting. You have until April 29 to request an early mail-in ballot in time for the statewide primary.
Here are a few best practices for voting via an early mail-in ballot.

Double-check your ballot.

Be sure you’ve got the right ballot in front of you before you begin. Also, confirm that an election official’s signature is at the very bottom of the ballot. If you don’t see one, call your county’s Election Commission Office immediately.

Black ink, in full.

Use a black ballpoint pen – no pencils, no magic markers – and fill in the oval completely. Don’t use blue, red, green, or any other color – use black. Be sure you’re using an ink pen, as well. Don’t use a pencil, and don’t use a marker.
Finally, completely darken the ovals that correspond with your choices – no X’s, no check marks. Leave no doubt what you’re voting for.

New ID requirements.

You’re good to go if you successfully requested your early mail-in ballot. That’s when you either wrote your driver’s license/state ID number on the request form, OR you included a photocopy of an accepted ID with your request form. That means you do NOT have to include your ID when you submit your mail-in ballot.
However, if you live in one of the 11 Nebraska counties that conduct all-vote-by-mail elections (Boone, Cedar, Cherry, Clay, Dawes, Dixon, Garden, Knox, Merrick, Morrill, and Stanton), you will need to write your driver’s license/state ID number in the space provided on the ballot return envelope or enclose a copy of an acceptable form of photo ID or reasonable impediment certification form in the ballot return envelope.
If you have questions about ID requirements, visit NoHindrance.org.

The Voter’s Oath.

This is required – no exceptions: The Voter’s Oath. This is located on your submission envelope and MUST be filled out fully before your ballot will be accepted. Complete each line (printing your name and your mailing address). Then, sign the Voter’s Oath where designated. In our experience, the most common reason for rejected early mail-in ballots is because the signature space was left blank.

Suggested deadlines.

We strongly recommend you mail your early mail-in ballot no later than May 7. If you plan to use the U.S. Mail to return your ballot, put a regular first-class stamp on it and get it in the mail AT LEAST seven days before Election Day – that way, our dedicated postal workers have plenty of time to get it to your Election Office.
After May 7, we recommend you place your ballot directly in a secure county dropbox. You can do this until 8 pm CDT (7 pm MDT) on Election Day. No postage is needed if you drop it off.

On Election Day …

DO NOT take your early ballot to your neighborhood polling place on Election Day. You’ll be turned away and told to take it to the nearest county dropbox. Polling sites are for day-of, in-person voters, and they will have no way to accept your ballot.

Track your ballot.

Once you return your ballot, you can track its progress online. Go here to follow its journey from submission to receipt to acceptance. If your ballot appears to be hung up for any reason, contact your Election Office immediately to find out how can correct it.

Need help? We’re here.

Do you have questions about the vote-by-mail process? Civic Nebraska can help you. Call our Election Help Line at 402-890-5291, Monday through Friday, 9 am to 5 pm before Primary Election Day, and 8 am to 8 pm on Nov. 8. We’re happy to help.
Learn more about Election 2024 – key dates, answers to FAQs, Decoding the Ballot, and how to make a plan to vote – at Civic Nebraska’s 2024 Election Central hub.

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