Douglas County adds 10,600 last-minute early voting ballots to Nebraska primary totals

By: - May 13, 2022 4:16 pm

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

OMAHA — Nebraska inched closer Friday to putting final touches on the state’s 2022 primary election, adding more than 10,000 votes to the statewide tally. The reason: Douglas County waits until then to count early voting ballots that are returned on Election Day.

Douglas County election officials count all early voting ballots on Election Day if they are returned by Monday of election week. They wait until Friday to count early voting ballots returned on Election Day to drop boxes and the county election office.

The reason: They focus Election Day resources on Election Day voting, said Brian Kruse, the county election commissioner. His staff checks signatures on the early voting ballots on Wednesday to make sure nobody votes twice. They open those ballots on Thursday and count them on Friday, he said.

This election, those last-minute early ballots added 10,600 votes to the statewide totals — about 4,400 Republicans, 4,500 Democrats and 1,700 others, Kruse said.

The additional ballots didn’t cause major results to change in statewide contests, but they did leave a handful of state and local races in limbo, awaiting the counting of provisional ballots, including about 950 in Douglas County. Those will be counted May 20.

One race that Friday’s results decided was the Democratic Party primary for Douglas County sheriff. Former Omaha Police Deputy Chief Greg Gonzalez led Chief Deputy Douglas County Sheriff Wayne Hudson by nearly 1,400 votes. 

Gonzalez will face Republican Aaron Hanson in the general election this November. Hanson has been a sergeant in the Omaha Police Department and part of the Omaha Police Officers Association, the union for Omaha police officers.

Other results

Visit the Nebraska Secretary of State’s Office for updated results on statewide races from Tuesday’s primary election.


Another close race will need to wait a week for a final outcome: northwest Omaha’s Legislative District 18. It is an open seat since incumbent State Sen. Brett Lindstrom is term-limited. The top two candidates will advance to the general election. 

Michael Young finished first. He will compete with whichever candidate survives a scrum for second place between Christy Armendariz, who was endorsed by Lindstrom, and Clarice Jackson, who was endorsed by Gov. Pete Ricketts. At last count, 21 votes separated the two.

Kruse told the Nebraska Examiner on Friday that his office will be evaluating 73 provisional ballots in that district on May 20. About 80% of such ballots typically get counted. That could be enough to swing the race, political observers said.

The additional 10,000 Omaha-area voters widened the gap in Nebraska’s Republican race for governor between winner Jim Pillen and second-place finisher Charles Herbster to 4 percentage points.

Pillen faces Democratic State Sen. Carol Blood in November’s general election. Herbster attended Wednesday’s GOP unity rally to support the winners of GOP primary races, but did not endorse Pillen. Lindstrom, the third-place finisher. endorsed Pillen on Election Night but did not attend the rally. 

The unofficial tally of statewide voter turnout was updated Friday to 409,231, or 33% of the state’s 1.24 million registered voters, based on new information provided by the Nebraska Secretary of State’s Office.

That number will change again because some counties are still counting provisional ballots.

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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.

Nebraska Examiner is part of States Newsroom, the nation’s largest state-focused nonprofit news organization.