Election observers, integrity units ready for Tuesday’s vote

November 6, 2018

Civic Nebraska will send nearly 120 volunteer election observers to precincts in seven counties Tuesday, the nonpartisan and nonprofit group dedicated toward improving civic engagement said in a news release.

Election observers, who have been trained to act in a passive role, will monitor polling places in Lancaster, Douglas, Sarpy, Seward, Adams, Gage and Buffalo counties.

They’ll gather data on how elections are run in the various counties, including wait time, provisional ballots turned in, and other instances, while also recording any irregularities or differing treatment toward voters.

The results will be compiled into a report similar to one issued by Civic Nebraska in August, which concluded Nebraska should remove more barriers to voting, such as expanding vote-by-mail and other programs.

The organization will also share the information it gathers with local and state election officials.

Civic Nebraska has partnered with the Lawyer’s Committee, the ACLU and Common Cause Nebraska to run a statewide, nonpartisan election observation program since 2012.

But this year marks the highest number of volunteers that will take part in the program, according to John Cartier, Civic Nebraska’s director of voting rights.

In the 2016 general election, Civic Nebraska trained and deployed about 75 observers.

“It’s a sign of Nebraska’s civic health to see such off-the-charts interest and engagement in our democracy,” Cartier said in a news release. “As voters scrutinize candidates’ positions on the issues, our staff and volunteers will ensure that voters enjoy elections that are modern, fair and accessible.”

Any Nebraska voter who has questions or concerns related to their ballot is encouraged to call the Civic Nebraska Election Day hotline at 402-904-5191 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Meanwhile, state and federal authorities are standing by to ensure Tuesday’s election goes off without a hitch.

Nebraska’s Election Integrity Unit will be fielding concerns and complaints at 402-417-2555, or toll-free at 888-727-0007.

The U.S. Department of Justice announced last week that Assistant U.S. Attorney Laurie Kelly has been tapped to lead the nationwide Election Day Program for the state of Nebraska.

The Election Day Program was established to deter election fraud such as intimidation, bribery, buying or selling votes, altering vote tallies, stuffing ballot boxes or marking ballots for voters against their wishes or without their input.

It was also designed to enforce federal law prohibiting discrimination at the polls, such as through photographing, videoing, interrupting or intimidating voters, U.S. Attorney Joe Kelly said.

“Every citizen must be able to vote without interference or discrimination and to have that vote be counted,” Kelly said. “The Department of Justice will act promptly and aggressively to protect the integrity of the election process.”

The Election Day Program can be reached at 402-661-3700, while the FBI, which will have special agents available in each field office and resident agency in the state, can be reached at 402-493-8688.

Update hourly