Who is voting in 2021?
Both Lincoln and Omaha will hold primary and general elections this spring for a number of city offices. Together, the two cities are home to more than 40 percent of all registered voters in the state of Nebraska.
Lincoln’s primary Election Day is April 6 and its general Election Day is May 4. Lincolnites will be electing three at-large members to the Lincoln City Council; four members to the Lincoln Public Schools Board of Education; and two members to the Lincoln Airport Authority Board of Directors. City of Lincoln elections are officially nonpartisan, meaning political party information is not printed on the ballot. For the City Council election, the six candidates receiving the most votes will advance to the general election.
Omaha’s primary Election Day is also April 6, but its general Election Day is May 11, one week after Lincoln’s. Omahans will be electing a mayor and all seven members of the Omaha City Council. City of Omaha elections are officially nonpartisan. The two candidates receiving the most votes in each race in the April 6 primaries will advance to the city’s May 11 general election.
Registering to vote
By what date(s) do I have to register to vote for the April 6 primary elections?
For both Lincolnites and Omahans, there are two dates you absolutely, positively need to know.
1) If you wish to register online, you must do so by 11:59 p.m. Friday, March 19, 2021. You will need a valid ID in the precinct in which you will vote to register online. Registering online in Nebraska takes about 10 minutes. Register here.
2) If you wish to register in person at your county’s election office, you get one additional week. That means you have until 6 p.m. Friday, March 26, 2021, to get there and get it done.
I can’t remember if I’m registered to vote. Where can I check?
Go here to check — and double-check. It takes 30 seconds.
I’m a college student from Lincoln/Omaha but I’m now living in Omaha/Lincoln. Am I required to vote in the city I go to school in, or the city where I am originally from?
If you’re a Lincolnite who moved to Omaha to go to college, or vice-versa – an Omahan who moved to Lincoln to go to college, you are not required to re-register at your college address. Temporary leaves from your home city do not require a change in voter registration. That said, it’s up to you! If you wish to re-register in your college city, you can do so.
Voting by mail / early mail-in ballot
I voted by mail in the November 2020 general election. Do I have to request another early mail-in ballot for the spring elections?
Yes. If you wish to vote early by mail – and any registered voter in our state can do so for any reason – you must first fill out a request for that ballot. The first day early mail-in ballots could be requested for the April 6 primaries in both cities was Dec. 7, 2020. Go to CivicNebraska.vote and we can help you obtain a request form if you’re eager to get yours as quickly as possible.
Are Douglas and Lancaster counties automatically sending out early mail-in ballot request forms, like they did in 2020?
No. Neither Douglas (Omaha) nor Lancaster (Lincoln) counties plan to send all registered voters in their counties a form to request an early mail-in ballot. Again, we can help you get your early mail-in ballot.
When will the early mail-in ballots go out for the April 6 primaries?
The first day that election officials in both cities can send primary ballots out to those who have requested them is March 22. If you have concerns about the status of your ballot, don’t hesitate to call your county election office.
What will happen if I submit more than one request form to vote by mail?
Only your first request will be processed. Anything else will be discarded as a duplicate. Our election systems have guardrails against sending out multiple ballots to the same person – you can’t, for example, send in three requests for a mail-in ballot, and then get three ballots. If you send in three requests for a mail-in ballot, only the first one counts. You will only get one ballot.
What’s the difference between an “absentee ballot” and an “early mail-in ballot?”
Nothing. You may be hearing several different terms – absentee voting, early mail-in voting, vote-by-mail, vote-at-home, etc. This time-honored practice goes by many names, but it is all the same thing. And it’s proven, reliable, and secure.
Do I need to give election officials a reason to get an early mail-in ballot?
No. Nebraska is a “no excuse” state, meaning we place no unnecessary burdens on showing why you want to request an early ballot.
I’m worried that my ballot will not get to election officials in time. What can I do to make sure it gets counted?
First, know that voting by mail is extremely secure. If you want to be absolutely sure that your ballot is received as quickly as possible, you can always take it to one of your county’s official drop boxes at any time before 8 p.m on April 6, the day of both cities’ primaries. You can track the status of your ballot here.
I want to vote early but I’d like to do it in person. Can I still do that?
Yes. Both Douglas (Omaha) and Lancaster (Lincoln) election offices are expected to be open for early in-person voting starting March 22. The last day for early in-person voting for the primary elections in both cities is April 5.
For Omahans: 12220 W Center Road, Omaha.
For Lincolnites: 601 N. 46th St., Lincoln.
Where do I go on Election Day to vote?
If you choose to vote in person this year, you can head to your polling station from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. CDT.
I can’t remember where my polling place is. Is there a way to double-check beforehand?
I have to work all day on Election Day. Is there any way I can get time off to vote?
Yes. Nebraska law allows workers time off to vote in certain circumstances. If you are scheduled to work the 12 hours when the polls are open, you can take up to two consecutive hours off to vote. If you apply for this time off before or even on Election Day, your employer can’t punish you or subtract wages on account of your absence. Under the law, your employer is also entitled to specify the hours when you can be gone from work to vote. Work with your employer to ensure you get to the polls – it’s your right.
If I’m in line when the polls close but I have yet to vote, do I still get to vote?
Yes, yes — by all means, yes! Stay in line. As long as you are in line by 8 p.m., you must be allowed to vote.
I want to be an election observer on Election Day. How do I do that?
Civic Nebraska is training nonpartisan election observers for the April 6 primaries in both cities, the May 4 general election in Lincoln, and the May 11 general election in Omaha. COVID-19 is altering our plans a bit, so we’re asking volunteers to join us for a (virtual) advocacy training beforehand. Join Civic Nebraska’s voting rights team for a virtual training at 6 pm Feb. 11 to learn the ins and outs of election advocacy. We’ll have information on how to register for this session soon.
What do I do if I’m denied a ballot on Election Day?
This is serious business, and we should know about it right away. If you have been denied a ballot for any reason, we encourage you to contact Civic Nebraska’s Election Day hotline at 402.890.5291, via email at email@example.com; or via Facebook or Twitter.
Do I have to show an ID on Election Day to vote?
No. Identification is not required to vote in Nebraska. The only exception is if you’re a first-time voter, you registered to vote by mail, and did not send in a copy of your ID at that time. If you are asked to present ID at your polling place for any other reason, call Civic Nebraska’s Election Day hotline at 402.890.5291, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or hit us up on Facebook or Twitter.
Other questions? Let us know at email@example.com and we’ll add them (and our answers) here.