Civic Nebraska tracks concerns about ballots, party registration changes

But overall, the state’s election processes appear to have met the goal of ensuring that every voter could vote and that every vote was counted.

With Civic Nebraska election observers monitoring precincts in several locations in Nebraska, the statewide primary election generally ran smoothly today, with election officials quick to respond to reported concerns.

However, there were several reports of voters whose party registrations had changed unexpectedly and voters not receiving their full, correct ballots. There also were reports of electioneering by campaigns and supporters of ballot initiatives in several locations in the state.

Civic Nebraska trained and organized nearly three dozen nonpartisan election observers for the 2018 Nebraska primary and answered questions from voters across the state via its Election Day Hotline.

Through this hotline and election observers on the ground, Civic Nebraska recorded the various complaints and assisted voters when possible. About 25 percent of the complaints involved campaign signs within the 200-foot electioneering ban of polling locations in Lancaster County.

There were also a number of reports of polling stations inadvertently issuing incorrect ballots to voters. Half of hotline calls came from voters who had problems receiving the correct ballot.

In Nebraska primaries, registered nonpartisans can also cast votes for Democrats, Republicans, or Libertarians. To do so, nonpartisans must request a nonpartisan Democratic, nonpartisan Republican, or nonpartisan Libertarian ballot at their polling station. Depending on the county, these races came as an addition to the party ballots.

John Cartier, Civic Nebraska’s director of voting rights, said voters should preview their county’s sample ballot beforehand and then examine their ballot closely before filling it out, and if it is not the correct ballot, immediately return it to a poll worker. Each primary ballot is labeled.

“There is room for improvement in education to both the public and poll workers on how to best organize Nebraska’s ballot options moving forward. We are confident we can make it more efficient and accurate for future elections,” Cartier said.

Another issue came from voters calling in who had their voter’s registration unexpectedly change. Civic Nebraska recorded five instances of this happening and ask voters to call 402-904-5191 to report if it also happened to them.

“Whatever the issue, we plan to work with local election officials to address the concerns,” Cartier said. “Generally, Nebraskans enjoy a positive voter experience, one that can be made even better with the addition of such measures such as Automated Verification and Registration. This will increase the accuracy of the voter rolls and eliminate opportunities for hackers to tamper with our registration lists.”

Civic Nebraska had observers in Lancaster, Douglas, Sarpy, and Buffalo counties monitoring polling sites. This is the  fourth election cycle for Civic Nebraska’s election observation program.

Civic Nebraska will release a full report for today’s primary election once it compiles all information from precincts and the hotline.

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