Civic Nebraska says state’s 2022 general election was ‘safe’ and ‘secure’

By: - February 13, 2023 3:54 pm

Wall art at the Douglas County Election Commissioner’s Office. (Cate Folsom/Nebraska Examiner)

OMAHA — A voting rights group that monitors Nebraska’s elections identified a handful of issues during the state’s 2022 general election but deemed the election “safe and secure.”

The report from Civic Nebraska cited the observations of 43 volunteers who observed 140 polling sites last year. The group operated an election problems hotline and contacted election officials to report them. 

Civic Nebraska’s report highlighted two issues the group asked local and state election officials to address. Both were handled appropriately after officials were notified, the group said.

Heather Engdahl of Civic Nebraska speaks in Lincoln Monday during a panel discussion opposing Nebraska’s Initiative 432, an effort to require ID to vote. Also shown are Omaha civil rights activist Preston Love Jr. and ACLU Nebraska’s Jane Seu. (Aaron Sanderford/Nebraska Examiner)

The first problem involved 25 people in Douglas County who were given the first page of their ballot, but not the second page, which contained ballot initiatives.

The report verified what Douglas County Election Commissioner Brian Kruse has said previously, that officials contacted those 25 voters  and told them they could go to the Election Commissioner’s Office to complete their ballot.

Heather Engdahl, voting rights director at Civic Nebraska, said Kruse’s office is working to make sure its election worker training emphasizes making sure complete ballots are distributed.

“They took that very seriously,” she said. “Overall, the consistent theme is of course that our elections are secure. … There were a couple small issues, but that’s going to happen.”

Kruse, reached Monday, had no immediate comment. But he has said previously he appreciates the feedback and will keep working to reduce the number of mistakes made with ballots.

The other issue the report highlighted was cross-talk during voting by a handful of poll workers in support of the voter ID ballot initiative, which voters passed. 

Civic Nebraska received reports of poll workers in Lancaster and Buffalo Counties “discussing the voter ID initiative on the ballot with voters,” according to the report. 

Voters and observers overheard a few poll workers audibly agree when someone signing in would show ID and say they hoped the voter ID initiative would pass this time, the report said. 

Engdahl said her group let local and state election officials know right away, and the officials  said they would work to make sure election workers know they can’t advocate during voting.

Nebraska Secretary of State Bob Evnen said he was pleased Civic Nebraska acknowledged the 2022 election was “fair and secure.” He thanked county election officials for their work.

“It is vital that it be easy to vote and hard to cheat,” he said Monday. “And we continue to focus on both.”

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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.