Nebraska Counties Pushing for more Mail-in Ballots

Nicole Ebat


Election day is officially November 6th, but many people aren't waiting until then to cast their ballots.

More and more people are voting early through the mail. In fact, during the 2008 election, Douglas County had a record number of people mail their votes in early and the election commissioner expects that number to increase by nearly 40% this year.

But early voting costs counties money.

"It's convenient for the voters, it's easy for the voters, but it's hard for us because even if we had 99% early voting we'd still have to have polling places, poll workers spread throughout the county and that just is an additional cost," said Dave Phipps, Douglas County Election Commissioner.

That's why some Nebraska counties are pushing to have certain precincts vote strictly by mail.

According to state statute, only counties with a population less than 10,000 people have the option of not using polls. Even then, the secretary of state has to approve any individual precinct.

Cuming County is currently taking voter feedback on what they might think going poll-free.

"It'd be a lot easier to vote, there's no lines, no hassle," said one man.

"That's our goal is to get more people out and more people to vote," said Bonnie Vogltance, Cuming County's Election Commissioner.

In a recent special election, voters in the county used only mail-in ballots. Vogltance says turnout for the special election nearly doubled over the turnout for the last primary election.

She also says being able to spend more time on the ballot could lead to more informed voters.

"I think people might feel a little bit more comfortable sometimes you can study the issues a little bit at home. So if you really don't know that question on the ballot, there are plenty of ways people can look it up."

State law would have to change for cities like Omaha to get rid of polls altogether, but Phipps says he's open to it if that were to ever happen.

"It would save us money," he said. "We'd save a lot of time and effort, we wouldn't have a lot of the supplies that we would normally have, we wouldn't have to worry about poll workers, we wouldn't have to worry about polling places."

"I think it's a good thing, something we should all explore," said Vogltance.

Early voting ballots go out Oct. 1st.