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Platte County experiences smooth election evening

November 8, 2018

Although primary and general election nights are typically a little chaotic, Platte County Election Commissioner Diane Olmer said the overall process Tuesday ran smoother than she expected.

After polls closed at 8 p.m. Tuesday, workers at each site hit the grounds running by counting votes before delivering ballots to Olmer’s office inside the Platte County Court House, 2610 14th St.

Among the 30 precincts, there were 27 polling locations located throughout the county, including Ag Park, Peace Lutheran Church, Federated Church and Palestine Baptist Church in St. Edward. There were at least five poll workers at each site.

Olmer said workers didn’t leave her office until 1 a.m. Wednesday because two-piece ballots were issued this year instead of one, resulting in total numbers coming in later than usual.

Despite that, Olmer said this year’s election process was one of the smoothest so far, noting nothing out of the ordinary happened. In the past, she said there were situations where scanners didn’t work and poll workers arrived late on site. In 2008, she said there were about 500 ballots that weren’t able to be scanned because of issues with the way the ballots were printed.

However, Olmer said that when issues arise she and her staff make an effort to learn from them so that lightning doesn’t strike twice during an already stressful situation.

As predicted by Olmer, this year’s gubernatorial election voter turnout was higher than in 2014 when Gov. Pete Ricketts first took office. There were a total of 11,073 (54.85 percent) Platte County votes cast on Tuesday exceeding the 2014’s total of 9,441 (49 percent).

There were 1,817 absentee ballots – which are votes cast by someone who is unable or unwilling to attend the official polling station – issued before Tuesday. These numbers also exceeded the 2014 General Election’s total of 1,543 absentee ballots issued.

Linda Davis, a clerk at the Platte County Election Commissioner’s office, said the only abnormality that occurred on Tuesday was the high volumes of calls inquiring about voter registration and polling sites.

“I think it went as normal as it could be,” said Davis, who has served the department for two years.

Olmer expressed her gratitude toward her workers and officers who worked hard to ensure a smooth evening.

Although results are published online, Olmer said the numbers are not yet 100-percent official. She said the total does not include provisional and write-in ballots from each precinct.

Provisional and write-in ballots, Olmer said, are issued to Platte County residents who have moved away and didn’t change their addresses in time for election or have simply forgotten to do so. Regardless of the reason, she said these individuals have the right to cast their votes.

Olmer said hopes to tally these numbers up by 3 p.m. on Friday after double-checking each registrants information to avoid someone from voting twice, which is a Class 4 felony.

Olmer added she hopes to have final numbers available sometime early next week.

“It (the election) went well,” she said.

Natasya Ong is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach her via email at natasya.ong@lee.net.

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