Voting in person? Here’s what to expect

Published: Oct. 16, 2020 at 10:02 AM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Early voting has taken Douglas County by storm. The Election Commissioner Brian Kruse predicts roughly seventy percent of ballots will be cast before November 3rd, based on turnout so far.

And if you’re planning to vote early or in-person- expect some changes.

For one, PPE is a strong suggestion. The commission is a government building so officials cannot mandate a mask, but Kruse says so far there have been no issues on that front and voters, praising voters for their respect and cooperation.

The Douglas County Election Commission also has masks, and sanitizer on hand if anyone forgets theirs.

If you’re a first-time voter, new to Nebraska, or just unsure of what the experience will be like during a pandemic, the first thing you can expect is a clerk greeting you at the door behind a large shield. They will be wearing masks and gloves. They’ll also hand you a pen that is yours to keep to reduce the number of shared items.

You’ll be handed a form to fill out to request your ballot and you’ll make your way through a line.

Kruse is asking voters to maintain as much social distance as they can, which could appear to make lines longer, but it moves pretty quickly; roughly fifteen minutes on average.

The process itself is similar to years past, except once you get to the counter, another large plexiglass will separate voters from more masked clerks.

You’ll be asked a few personal questions to determine all the information on your ballot is correct, the clerk will print it for you to review, and once that is confirmed, you’ll head to the back of the room to either uses a socially distant voter station to review your ballot, or you have the option to take it home with you.

However, one new practice this year adds a brief step before you seal your ballot in an envelope and drop it inside a secure ballot box. Voters will leave their station, walk a few feet over to a third clerk, behind a Plexiglass and they will insert your ballot into that envelope and seal it for you with a glue stick.

"It’s just one less touchpoint,” Kruse explained. He also addressed ballot security; something that’s been a major concern this election season.

“Drop boxes around the county are emptied daily by two individuals of different parties; so bipartisan.” Kruse outlined.

There are thirteen drop boxes spread throughout Douglas County and three of them allow you to drive up and drop your ballot right in.

The boxes are also monitored by camera, a precaution 72-year-old Mick Murphy says he appreciates. Murphy has voted in every election since he was 18.

“I’m glad it’s in. I was able to put it in a box inside so I feel secure.” Murphy said.

Of the 155,000 ballots handed out, the Election Commission has already received 75,000 back, but if you haven’t done any of this yet - Friday, October 16th is the last day to register anywhere other than their office. For example, at the DMV, online, at libraries, etc.

Friday, Oct. 23 at 6 p.m. is the very last day to register in person for this election, and the very last day to request a ballot be mailed to you.

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