Douglas County election commissioner prioritizes security on, before Election Day

Brian Kruse said he expects absentee voting will continue to be a trend well past the pandemic.
Updated: May. 11, 2021 at 4:20 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Since the last two elections, we have heard that way more people voting in Tuesday’s election are doing so by mail rather than in person.

According to the Douglas County Election Commissioner, 75% of voting for this election is happening by mail-in or drop-off ballots.

Here’s why the election is different during a pandemic: Even though half of the county who are eligible have been vaccinated. As of last night, 60,506 ballots have been turned in.

Election Commissioner Brian Kruse credits that to the pandemic but expects the trend to continue well past.

Even still, on Election Day, many schools, churches, and community centers double as polling locations. Kruse said Tuesday morning that most sites had been relatively slow, but noted that there’s usually an uptick around 4 p.m., and through 7 p.m., as people head home from work.

The county has nine new machines to count ballots that are ultra-secure, as well as other security measures.

“They’re never connected to each other or the internet. And of course, there’s all kinds of security measures behind the scenes: dotcom, the cities and counties, computer folks, IT folks,” Kruse said. “We have monitors — Albert monitors — which monitor nefarious actors; and we haven’t seen anything. We haven’t seen any credible threats.”

The election commissioner also said another 8,000-9,000 early ballots will be dropped off in drop boxes Tuesday, but they won’t be counted until later in the week.

So, that’s nearly 70,000 votes. The election commissioner estimates that another 2,300 will vote in person Tuesday, which is just 25% of the total.

Kruse said Nebraska has the gold standard with paper ballots, and that it’s hard to hack a paper ballot. He’s also expecting 35% total voter turnout. Only 25% of that is expected to come out to polls today.

Last month’s primaries drew more voters out than expected. With several close city council races, he hopes the momentum continues.

”We did have a big voter turnout in primary and I think that will carry over to today. Especially those city council races. Man, we had three of ‘em within nearly 100 votes in the primary. So we’re looking forward to exciting races tonight, and of course, two great mayoral candidates for our good city,” said Kruse.

Kruse reminded voters to sign the back of their ballots before putting them into a dropbox to ensure they’re counted.

But with 8,000-9,000 ballots that will be put in dropboxes today and not counted until Friday, it’s easy to see that for any close races reported Tuesday night won’t have a clear winner before Friday.

Copyright 2021 WOWT. All rights reserved.