Early ballots for the Nov. 3 general election went out this week to the one-fourth of Lincoln County’s registered voters who had applied for them by Monday.
County Clerk Becky Rossell, who doubles as the county’s election commissioner, said her office sent out 5,951 ballots in that first wave.
That’s about 25.2% of the 23,616 county residents registered to vote in the May 12 primary, in which 9,279 early ballots were requested — largely due to COVID-19 health measures — and 7,999 of those were cast.
“We had a pretty good rush (of ballot requests) right off the bat when we first mailed (application postcards) out,” Rossell said. “But now it’s trickled off to just a few every day.”
Requests for early ballots will be taken by her office until 6 p.m. Oct. 23, she added, as will new in-person voter registrations.
To be counted, early ballots must be in the hands of Rossell’s office by 8 p.m. Election Day, when in-person polling sites also close.
Ballots may be mailed, left in person at Rossell’s office or placed in the county’s dropboxes at the south door of the courthouse, 301 S. Jeffers St., or the south end of the Sheriff’s Office parking lot across Jeffers.
Rossell warned voters that their ballots will be longer than in either the May primary or North Platte Public Schools’ March all-mail election.
North Platte’s ballots are three pages long this time, she said. Six state ballot questions face Nebraska voters, and city voters also face a pair of questions on whether to renew the city’s Quality Growth Fund.
“Look at those and the (state) amendments, because there’s a lot of reading this time,” Rossell said.
In-person early voting in her office — an option unavailable in the primary due to COVID-19 — will begin Monday and run through Nov. 2.
A variety of health precautions will be in place, she said. Plexiglass screens have been installed at the main counter, but the office’s layout and the need to space the curtained-off ballot stations 6 feet apart likely will leave room for only two voters in the clerk’s office at a time.
“If you have quite a few people (with you), they may need to wait in line,” Rossell said.
She hasn’t yet finalized the number and locations of Election Day in-person polling sites, but the county will need more volunteer poll workers, she said. Call 308-534-4350, ext. 4110, if interested.
For the May primary, Rossell consolidated North Platte precincts and the neighboring rural Hall precinct into two in-town sites. Polling sites operated as usual in the county’s other towns and rural precincts.
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