Registrar wraps up Omaha General Election count

Updated: May. 14, 2021 at 4:31 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The counting is over for the Omaha General Election. After 15 months of running at full speed, finally, workers at the election commissioner’s office can take a break.

“We had at times employees working, all the way up to 100 hours a week, in a week,” Elections Manager Justine Kessler said.

Workers at the Douglas County Election Commission deserve a break, it’s been a grueling run.

“Presidential primary to a presidential general and then we turn right around and then have the city primary and five weeks later we have the city general,” said Douglas County Election Commissioner, Brian Kruse.

Every four years, this is how it goes at the election commissioner’s office. But this time, it was different.

Back-to-back elections going on during a pandemic, creating a challenge on how to keep votes and workers safe.

“We were getting information from HR and the health department and the secretary of states office and that information would change sometimes within a few hours in a day.”

A record number of mail-in ballots were cast in both elections. Betsy Buehler is the Mail Election Coordinator, she says the sheer number of mail-in ballots was a bit intimidating but she believes it keeps people home and took the pressure off in-person voting during COVID.

“People who maybe have a medical situation don’t want to stand in line or it’s hard for them to get to a polling place now. They know and are educated about our process and I think it was helpful for people who were concerned about their safety. And you know we didn’t have any transmission of the virus that we were aware of at any of our polling places and we had almost 100,000 people at the polls in November of last year.”

Officials say temporary workers played a big role in making sure both elections ran smoothly.

“If there’s one thing we’ve had over the last 15 months, I’d say it was thinking outside of the box. It was innovation, it was ingenuity and it really was the ability to try new things by both our staff and the voters.”

Election Commissioner Brian Kruse says things will slow down for a while and workers will get some much-needed time off.

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