Nebraska Secretary of State Bob Evnen spoke on election fraud claims and the impact of the Ukraine invasion on Nebraska, among other topics, as guest of Grand Island’s Noon Rotary Club on Tuesday.
Evnen has served in the role since 2019. Among his duties, he oversees rules and regulations, elections, records management, licensing and international relations.
Election Fraud Claims
Evnen spoke on election security, refuting claims of possible election tampering at the state level.
“I’ve looked into this. One of the things being said is, I haven’t looked, I haven’t investigated, I don’t care, I’m not paying attention. None of that is true,” he said. “I’ve looked into everything that’s been brought to me and many things that were not brought to me, but that I heard about and understood. I run them to ground, and they just don’t pan out.”
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A page on the Nebraska Secretary of State website has questions and answers to address the concerns raised by Nebraska voters and what has been found.
“You can see for yourself and consider for yourself what you think of it,” he said.
The problem, Evnen said, is “there’s a group of people who want to count the ballots by hand.”
“If the Legislature wants us to count the ballots by hand, that’s what we’ll do. But if you’re asking me: Is that justified? The answer is no. There’s no justification for doing that.”
The machines are not the problem, Evnen said, emphasizing that they are not connected to the internet.
“The machines are never connected to the internet. The system is designed that way,” he said. “It’s not like we didn’t see this coming. Our counting systems, the systems that compile our results, they’re never connected to the internet. This obsessive focus on the machines is taking your eye off the ball.”
The real security concern, Evnen said, is early voting.
There is an “increased representation of early voting now,” he said.
Evnen is a supporter of voter IDs.
“I just think it’s common sense,” he said. “There’s a petition out now for that. If it’s successful it will be on the ballot, so Nebraskans can decide for themselves whether they want voter IDs.”
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, ongoing since February, has affected Nebraska’s agricultural economy, Evnen said.
Evnen described Ukraine as “the breadbasket of Eastern Europe.”
“Ukraine isn’t going to have a harvest this season, of anything,” he said.
This is driving up prices in Europe, as well as the cost of inputs, Evnen said.
“Ukraine is one of the foremost producers of fertilizer, and all that’s come to a close,” he said.
This pressure puts pressure on Nebraska producers, but also creates opportunities for those countries that rely on Ukraine, said Evnen.
Coping with refugees from Ukraine now and still from Afghanistan remain a challenge for the Secretary of State’s office.
“You have to deal with people asking, can you help us get our dear ones out?” said Evnen. “It’s been extremely difficult, and I can tell you the U.S. State Department has not helped.”
State Board of Education
Evnen addressed the State Board of Education sex education standards controversy, speaking about his time previously serving on the board.
“We were invited to adopt sex education standards at the state level, and our board said, ‘No, we’re not going to do that. That’s for parents,’” he said. “It’s not for us sitting in Lincoln to dictate to the rest of the state. That’s for parents and for local boards because local boards are more accountable to the parents whose children are in these schools.”
In June, Gov. Pete Ricketts spoke against new sex education standards being proposed by the Nebraska Department of Education, which many Nebraska communities opposed.
The proposed changes since have been halted.
For more information on the Nebraska Secretary of State’s office, visit www.sos.ne.gov.