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For primary election, counties pushing vote-by-mail to avoid crowded polling places

Posted at 6:22 PM, Mar 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-17 19:22:05-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — County officials are doing everything they can to get people to vote by mail.

Douglas County, along with Sarpy, Lancaster and Cass, are going to send mail-ballot request forms to every registered voter.

One big worry for having in person voting during the primary, those polling places are usually staffed with elderly volunteers.

"We don't know what's going to happen on Election Day, we don't know if poll workers are going to show up or not quite frankly," says Brian Kruse, Douglas County Election Commissioner.

To avoid this problem completely, Douglas County wants to require mail in voting, saying polling places carry too great of risk.

Right now Douglas County can't legally do this. Only counties under 10,000 residents can.

With the legislature suspended, it would be up to Governor Pete Ricketts, who has broad powers, to allow counties to exclusively vote by mail.

"If we do that a polling place, not only is it dangerous, it's not really setting a very good example for the public," says Mike Boyle, Douglas County commissioner.

Governor Pete Ricketts' office says they're in talks with Secretary of State Bob Evnen on the primary election, but they say the governor is not weighing an all vote by mail election.

Senator Megan Hunt urges him to do so.

"I think that it's irresponsible given this emergency situation to ask voters to go to an in-person voting thing. All over Nebraska, and that's why the governor needs to act to make sure we have all-mail, or vote by mail option," says Hunt.

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