Power outage and minor ballot fumbles reported on somewhat busy Election Day, Nebraska officials say

By: - November 8, 2022 2:59 pm

Voters make their choices Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, in the basement of St. Matthew Evangelical Lutheran Church in Omaha. (Aaron Sanderford/Nebraska Examiner)

OMAHA — Voting on Tuesday began with a bang in Nebraska when a piece of machinery hit a tree, and the tree hit a local power line that cut power to a voting site in Otoe County.

Natural light let people keep voting until power was restored about an hour and a half later, state election officials said.

Few counties were reporting more than the typical problems of poll workers struggling to find equipment that sometimes gets moved to a different closet or shelf, officials said. The worst trouble reported in Omaha came around the start of voting at a precinct in the Benson area, according to Civic Nebraska.

About 25 voters there were handed only the first page of a two-page ballot, Douglas County Election Commissioner Brian Kruse confirmed. Kruse said election officials had reached each of those voters by mid-afternoon to make sure they could return to finish the other page.

“We worked to make it right,” Kruse said.

Kruse, along with Sarpy County Election Commissioner Emily Ethington and Lancaster County Election Commissioner Dave Shively, said things were going pretty smoothly otherwise. Douglas and Lancaster officials said voting numbers appeared to be higher than for a typical off-year election.

“They’re kind of busy,” Shively said of his poll workers. “But we haven’t had any real issues.”

A mistake on ballots in Phelps County caused a brief scare because eight voters got ballots with the wrong county commissioner’s race on it, state election officials said. The race was uncontested, so it should not be affected.

Nebraskans are returning the bulk of early voting ballots requested, officials said. By 2 p.m., 88% had been returned, which bodes well for the secretary of state’s prediction of seeing more than 90% returned overall. Counties in the state with all-mail voting had already returned about 66% of their ballots.

Early ballots in Nebraska have to be received by county election officials by the time that polls close on Election Day.

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Aaron Sanderford
Aaron Sanderford

Political reporter Aaron Sanderford has tackled various news roles in his 20-plus year career. He has reported on politics, crime, courts, government and business for the Omaha World-Herald and Lincoln Journal-Star. He also worked as an assignment editor and editorial writer. He was an investigative reporter at KMTV.