Douglas County expects record numbers, smooth experience at polling places

Published: Oct. 15, 2020 at 4:25 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - With election day less than three weeks away and a record number of voters expected to cast their vote, there are concerns surrounding the election.

Especially in the presidential race where charges of voter fraud, ballot manipulation, and voter intimidation are being bantered about on social media.

“We’ve got half of our balance that we mailed out back in already,” said Douglas County Commissioner Brian Kruse.

The election of 2020 is expected to exceed 70 percent participation, according to the Douglas County Election Commissioner.

More people are voting early than ever before, maybe it’s the virus, maybe it’s convenient. No one is sure why mail-in and early voting is on the uptick.

“We’re breaking records every day,” said Kruse.

And voters are requesting a ballot.

“We’re still getting about 800 requests a day in,” said Kruse.

Counting these ballots won’t happen right away.

These machines are geared up and ready to quickly and accurately tally votes.

“We can do that by law beginning on Monday, November 2 the day before so will do a lot of accounting on Monday and then will finish up on Tuesday of course,” said Kruse.

Yet there are concerns. Mainly threats of ballot fraud and overzealous poll watchers.

“We’re hearing some concerns about that and we’re hearing some concerns about voter intimidation but a lot of these are prompted by stories from other states we haven’t heard any rumblings here but we also want to provide educational materials to our poll workers so they feel prepared on election day,” said Michael Cich-Jones, Election Board Coordinator.

That training includes diffusing irate and intimidating voters. The goal is to talk down anyone who is causing problems before it erupts into a full-blown incident.

Polling places are expected to be crowded, so poll workers are instructed in a leap. Listen to an irate voter, empathize with them, apologize without accepting blame, and problem solve.

If that fails…

“The absolute last resort would be law enforcement,” said Kruse.

The commission is sending poll supervisors around to ensure everything goes smoothly on election day.

“Those wanting to go to the polling place should have a positive experience we don’t anticipate having any problems and we hope we don’t,” said Kruse.

One important note for voters...if you requested a mail-in ballot you must use that ballot. You will not be allowed to show up at your polling place and cast a ballot.

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