Suspending in-person early voting will protect Nebraskans

The governor's order protects public health and the health of our counties' election staff – professionals who are absolutely vital in carrying out a successful primary May 12. And fortunately, all Nebraska voters can vote by mail.

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The governor has issued an emergency order to allow county election offices and county clerk’s offices to suspend in-person voting for all but Nebraskans with disabilities. Early in-person voting was set to begin April 13.

This is the best decision during an unprecedented situation, and we know state officials did not take this decision lightly. Civic Nebraska was among the stakeholders that Secretary of State Bob Evnen called together to weigh the public-health risks of early in-person voting during COVID-19. The governor’s order protects public health, and the health of our counties’ election staff – professionals who are absolutely vital in carrying out a successful primary May 12.

In the wake of this change, please remember three things:

1. You can still vote early. It just has to be by U.S. Mail or by dropbox.

We have joined our state officials in encouraging Nebraskans to vote by mail this year – not only as a health measure, but also because it is safe, secure, and convenient. As a Nebraska voter, you can request a mail-in ballot and then either send it back by return mail or place it in an official dropbox. Every county in Nebraska will have at least one official dropbox – in fact, they’re arriving across the state as we speak.

2. You can still vote in person, but only on Election Day.

State officials have reiterated that the state will hold its primary May 12 as mandated by state law, with open polls for day-of, in-person voting. Secretary of State Evnen has indicated each precinct will follow careful distancing and sanitization guidelines. In addition, each in-person May 12 voter will receive their own black pen with which to vote, which they can keep.

3.  The safest, most secure, most convenient method is to vote by mail.

In Nebraska, any voter can request a mail-in ballot for any reason. Several Nebraska counties said in March they would send their registered voters the necessary forms to request vote-by-mail ballots. Following those announcements, Secretary of State Evnen added that his office would send mail-in ballot request forms to voters in the remaining counties. The bottom line: Every registered voter in Nebraska should be receiving a ballot request form for the primary, either from their county election official or the secretary of state. As of April 8, more than 140,000 voters have requested vote-by-mail ballots; that’s nearly three times the number requested in the 2018 primary.

Civic Nebraska is also assisting voters across the state in requesting and securing their mail-in ballot. Visit our vote-at-home information and resource page if you would like us to help you.

For answers to frequently asked questions about the May 12 Nebraska Primary, click here.

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