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Nebraska is counting every vote

Nebraska is counting every vote

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Nebraska really did it right on Election Day.

That is clear as most Nebraska election results were determined on Tuesday night, other than races where automatic recounts will be needed because the vote totals were so close.

Elsewhere across the country, mail-in votes still were being counted on Friday.

Nebraska, with its record of 936,106 votes cast — during a pandemic — is clear evidence that mail-in voting works and is valuable in helping the state’s citizens cast their ballots.

Civic Nebraska reports that more than a half-million early ballots had been submitted across the state before polls opened on Election Day, a total that was nearly 60% of the state’s total vote in the 2016 General Election.

“Nebraskans have realized the benefit of voting early. Not only does it allow them to research their candidates and issues thoroughly, but it has also been a safe, reliable process to usher our democracy through an election year like no other,” said John Cartier, Civic Nebraska’s director of voting rights.

Secretary of State Bob Evnen said voters beat the previous record from the 2016 general election by about 68,000 votes.

There were 34 counties that had a turnout of more than 80%, and four counties had a turnout of 88%. In Hall County, the turnout was about 70%.

Evnen said the record likely will increase once counties process an additional 20,000 to 25,000 ballots and provisional ballots that were submitted on Tuesday.

Hall County Election Commissioner Tracy Overstreet said Hall County had about 400 provisional ballots that couldn’t be counted on election night because those voters changed their voter registration while at the polls.

Civic Nebraska says that the state can alleviate this problem by adopting same-day registration. The process, practiced in 21 states and the District of Columbia, provides a way to vote that does not require a provisional ballot.

This is something the Nebraska Legislature should consider in looking for ways to streamline vote counting even more.

But Nebraska’s regulation that mail-in ballots must be received by the county election offices by Election Day did make determining the final results much easier than it has been in many other states across the country.

States mostly set the rules for when the count has to end. There are 21 states that allow mail-in votes received after Election Day to be counted, as long as they are postmarked by Election Day.

This has made it extremely difficult to declare a winner in the presidential election, as ballots can be received seven days after the election in Nevada, nine days after in North Carolina and three days after in Pennsylvania — three of the four states that still were counting on Friday.

Evnen expressed concerns after the election about the number of ballots that were requested by registered voters but not returned. But this is not a reason to cut back on the ability of Nebraskans to cast votes by mail.

Mail-in voting clearly boosted the voter turnout in our state as Nebraska did everything it could to help voters cast ballots despite the pandemic.

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