Frequently-asked questions about the 2020 election

The Nov. 3, 2020 general election is approaching. From now until Election Day, we'll be updating this page with the latest voting-related questions and answers.

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Updated Sept. 24, 2020

Registration

By what date(s) do I have to register to vote for the Nov. 3 election?

There are two dates you absolutely, positively need to know.

1) If you wish to register online to vote in Nebraska, you must do so by 11:59 p.m. Friday, Oct. 162020. 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.

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, Oct. 232020, to get there and get it done.

For all important dates in the 2020 election, visit our election countdown page.

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. Do I register to vote in the city where I’m going to school, or in the place where I’m originally from?

If you’ve moved out of state or to a different county for college, you are not required to re-register at your college address – temporary leaves from your home state or county do not require a change in voter registration. But you get to choose where you register; you can either register to vote at your college address or your permanent home address. If you choose to register to vote in a state other than Nebraska, be sure to check that state’s laws and requirements about voting and registration.

Voting by mail / early mail-in ballot

I voted by mail in the state’s May primary. Do I have to request another early mail-in ballot for the November election?

Yes. If you wish to vote early by mail in Nebraska – 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 can be requested for the November election was July 6Go to civicnebraska.vote and we can help you obtain a request form if you’re eager to get yours as quickly as possible.

Are any counties automatically sending out early mail-in ballot request forms?

Yes. Nebraska’s three largest counties – Douglas, Lancaster, and Sarpy – are sending all registered voters in their counties a form to request an early mail-in ballot.

What about the other counties?

On Aug. 19, Secretary of State Robert Evnen confirmed that the state would send early mail-in ballot request forms to all Nebraska voters that were not already being covered by their counties. This is great news – so if you were registered to vote in Nebraska by Labor Day, you’ll get a request form in the mail. If you registered after Sept. 8, you’ll need to request your mail ballot – again, we can help you with that.

I’ve already sent in my mail-in ballot request form. When can I expect to receive my early mail-in ballot?

The first day that county election officials can send ballots out to those who have requested them is Sept. 28. Watch your mail after this date for your ballot. 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. 

With all the news about the U.S. Postal Service, I’m worried that my ballot will not get to election officials in time to be counted, or will be tampered with. 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 Nov. 3. All 93 Nebraska counties have at least one drop box. Then, you can track the status of your ballot here

Where can I get an early look at the November ballot?

You can see sample ballots here. An informed electorate is good for democracy; if you need more information about Nebraska’s political parties and their candidates, you can check out the candidate pages on the state’s DemocraticRepublican and Libertarian websites. You can also learn more about the offices and measures you’re voting on at Civic Nebraska’s Decoding The 2020 Ballot

 

In-person voting

I want to vote early but I’d like to do it in person. Can I still do that?

Yes. All county election offices are expected to be open for early in-person voting starting Oct. 5Find the address of your county’s election office here.

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. if you’re in the eastern part of the state that is in Central Time, or 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. if you’re in the western part of the state that is in Mountain Time.

I can’t remember where my polling place is. Is there a way to double-check beforehand?

Yes. Click here. Enter your address and your polling place will be displayed.

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 on Nov. 3 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, yesStay in line. As long as you are in line by 8 p.m. in the Central Time Zone or 7 p.m. in the Mountain Time Zone, 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 Nov. 3 general election right up to the day before Nebraskans go to the polls. COVID-19 is altering our plans a bit, so we’re asking volunteers to join us for a (virtual) training beforehand. Join Civic Nebraska’s voting rights team for a virtual training to learn the ins and outs of election protection for Election Day on Nov. 3, so you can be a volunteer election observer in Nebraska. We’ll go over basic election law, some do’s and dont’s at polling places, what’s asked of nonpartisan election observers amid COVID-19 restrictions, and observers’ important role in ensuring free, fair, and transparent elections in Nebraska. RSVP for this Zoom meeting at https://bit.ly/3hABqBt.

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 402.904.5191, via email at info@civicnebraska.org; 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 402.904.5191 or 402.890.5291, email us at info@civicnebraska.org, or hit us up on Facebook or Twitter.

Other questions? Let us know at info@civicnebraska.org and we’ll add them (and our answers) here.

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