Election Facts at a Glance: Get Ready for the 2018 Primary

Election Day for the 2018 primary is May 15 and the deadline to register or change your registration (if you’ve moved, changed your name, want to change your political party affiliation, etc.) is coming up fast. In Douglas and Sarpy counties, the deadline to register by mail, through an agent (like one of our voter-registration volunteers) or online is April 30. Douglas County residents can also register in-person at the election commission office any time before 6 p.m. on May 4.

As part of our mission to empower voters, LWVGO has put together a two-page printable factsheet about the election: ElectFacts: 2018 Primary. Below, we’ve collected some more extensive information about the primary and how to be a voter. We also have a Google Calendar available with the deadlines and will be collecting candidate forums and other resources on our website under the heading “2018 ELECTIONS.”

We encourage you to distribute this information with your friends, families and community members.

Get out there and go vote, Omaha!

About This Election

Nebraska primary basics

In this election, voters will narrow the field — candidates that “win” their primary elections will go on to compete in the 2018 general election in November.

Many of Nebraska’s state and local offices are nonpartisan (including the state legislature and public utility races), so, in these races, the top two candidates — regardless of their political party affiliation — will move on the general election.

For example, Nebraska legislative district 8 has three candidates on the ballot, all of whom are registered Democrats. The primary election next month will determine which two will appear on the general election ballot in November.

Other offices have partisan primary races. This means that the primary election determines which candidate represents a given party in the general election.

For example, the Nebraska governor’s race has two Republicans and three Democrats in the primary. There will be two winners — one for each party, and those two will go on to appear on the general election ballot.

Some races, both nonpartisan and partisan ones, won’t be on the primary ballot because the number of candidates is small enough that they all advance to the general election.

For example, there’s only one Democratic candidate for secretary of state (a statewide, partisan race) but there are two Republican candidates, so voters who vote the Democratic ballot won’t see secretary of state as an option but those who vote the Republican ballot will.

Omaha Public Schools’ bond issue

Residents in the Omaha Public School District will have an issue on their ballots, in addition to the primary candidates running for representation of their districts. OPS voters will decide to grant or not grant a bond to fund the school district. You can find out more about this issue from Go Vote, Omaha.

Who Can Vote

You are eligible to vote in Nebraska if you are:

  1. A Nebraska resident; and
  2. A US citizen; and
  3. At least 18 years old OR 17 years old but you’ll be 18 by Nov. 6, 2018; and
  4. Have never been convicted of a felony OR have been convicted of a felony but have completed your entire sentence (including probation/parole and incarceration), plus 2 years of wait-time. (Citizens with misdemeanor convictions or citizens who have spent time in jail, including while awaiting trial, do not lose their right to vote.)

What about political parties?

Voters must select a political party when they register. There are four recognized parties: Republican, Democratic, Libertarian and Nonpartisan.

Registered voters of all parties (including nonpartisans) can vote in the primary election. Republican, Democratic and Libertarian voters will receive ballots specific to their respective parties. Nonpartisan voters will receive Nonpartisan ballots and can also choose to vote an additional ballot. If they elect to, Nonpartisans can choose to also vote the Nonpartisan Republican ballot, Nonpartisan Democratic ballot or Nonpartisan Libertarian ballot. These additional ballots include only the respective party’s Congressional race. View this graphic from the Douglas County Election Commission for a visual explanation.

What if I don’t have an address or are registered at my parents’ address but go to school out-of-state?

If you are registered at your parent’s home, you will need to request an early ballot to vote by mail.

If you live in a shelter, you can register to vote using the address of the shelter. You can vote early or on Election Day.

If you do not have an address at all, you can register to vote using the address of your county election commission office as your address. You can then vote early, in-person at the election commission office between April 16 and May 14. You cannot vote on Election Day.

If you are in a county jail, you can register to vote using your home address. You will need to request an early ballot to vote by mail.

How to Register to Vote

The deadline to register to vote in this election is April 30.

Nebraska residents can register online via the Nebraska Secretary of State’s website.

You can also register to by paper: You can fill out and print the form and mail it to your election commission or bring it in. (Mailed registrations must be postmarked by April 30.)

Douglas County Election Commission
225 North 115th Street
Omaha, NE 68154

Sarpy County Election Commission
501 Olson Dr. Suite 4
Papillion, NE 68046

Verify your registration and that all your information is correct by going to the Nebraska Voter Check website and entering your information under “Registration Information.”

How, When & Where to Vote

Nebraska voters can: vote early by going to their county election office (early in-person voting), vote early by mailing their ballot to their county election office (vote by mail), vote early by dropping off a ballot in a dropbox, or vote in-person at their polling place.

Early Voting

You can go to your county election commission office and vote early in-person any time between 8 a.m. Monday, April 16 and 6 p.m. Monday, May 14. Here are the office addresses:

Douglas County Election Commission
225 North 115th Street
Omaha, NE 68154

Sarpy County Election Commission
501 Olson Dr. Suite 4
Papillion, NE 68046

Vote By Mail (VBM)

In Douglas and Sarpy counties, you have to request a ballot to get it mailed to you. If you request a ballot, you cannot vote on Election Day. In Douglas County, you can also drop your ballot off at a dropbox instead of putting it in the mail.

To get a ballot mailed to you, fill out the form for your county and then email it in, mail it in or deliver it to your county election commission office. The deadline is 6 p.m. on Friday, May 4.

Douglas County Application
Email: earlyvoting@votedouglascounty.com
Dropbox Locations

Office Location:
225 North 115th Street
Omaha, NE 68154

Sarpy County Application
Email: earlyvote@sarpy.com
Office Location:
501 Olson Dr. Suite 4
Papillion, NE 68046

Verifying Your Ballot Was Received

After voting, it’s a good idea to check that your early/vote-by-mail ballot was received and accepted. To do this, go to the Nebraska Voter Check website, click on “Absentee Ballot” and enter your information.

At-Poll (Election Day) Voting

If you did not request an early/absentee/VBM ballot, you’ll vote on Election Day, which is Tuesday, May 15. You’ll go to your polling place any time between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Your election commission office should have sent you a card with your polling place information and district information when you registered or changed your registration. But you can find your polling place online if you need to: Go to the Nebraska Voter Check website and enter your address.

How to Find Out Who & What Will Be On Your Ballot

Your election commission office should have sent you a card with your polling place information and district information when you registered or changed your registration.

If you live in Douglas or Sarpy County, you can also find out your districts online. You can then match up your districts with voting guides to find out more about the candidates running to be your representative in those districts.

You can find out who is running in each race/district on the Douglas County Election Commission website (this includes statewide races and U.S. House of Representatives District 2 but not races specific to only Sarpy County).

Because this is a primary and there’s a mix of partisan and nonpartisan races, there are different ballots for the different political parties. Every ballot has the nonpartisan races that you’re eligible to vote for plus the bond-issue question, if you live in the Omaha Public School District. Libertarian, Republican and Democratic ballots have all the nonpartisan races, the bond-issue question (if you live in the OPS District), plus the party candidates for the partisan races.

Find Your Districts: Douglas County

If you’re registered, you can use the Nebraska Voter Check website to find both your polling place information and your districts.

If you’re not registered (or just recently registered), go to the Douglas County Election Commission website and enter your address under “Finding Your Voting Information.” (Tip: Use the advanced search for better results.)

Find Your Districts: Sarpy County

Go to the Polling Place Locator website and enter your address. Under the Voting Info tab, you’ll see your polling place address and can even click on links to view sample ballots. Click on the Districts tab to see all of your representatives and the districts they represent.


Join Observer Corps

Want to get to know your local government and help make democracy work? Join Observer Corps!

Observer Corps are a structured way for individuals to exercise their right to know. They provide a valuable service to the community. They help ensure that citizens are aware of the decisions that impact their lives and they promote government transparency and accountability.

An observer is an individual who attends a governmental meeting, notes what happens at the meeting, and reports back to the League and through the League to the community. By attending public meetings of local governmental bodies/agencies, observers learn more about what their government is doing. They learn about the issues facing their community and are empowered to take action, if warranted. They also learn how issues are being addressed.

Observers generally do not “act” on issues in these meetings as a representative of the League (observers should not provide commentary or testimony on issues on behalf of the League). Instead, observers attend meetings to gather information. Through the process, their presence encourages better, more transparent government.

Anyone is welcome to become an observer. Non-members are welcome to join and all participants are encouraged to bring a friend!

How much time does it take?

Observers can choose when they are available and how much time they are able to spend observing. They can choose to observe bodies that meet during the day, in the evenings and that are held weekly, twice per month, monthly or every other month. Observers can also choose to “virtually attend” meetings at any time they like by watching/listening to recordings available online. If there is a large enough response, we may be able to “double up” observers and even have rotating schedules (one meeting on, one meeting off), if desired.

To become an observer:

  1. Fill out the interest survey here: http://bit.ly/ObsSignup.
  2. Attend a brief training session with one or both of the observer corps leaders. (This can be done in person or online.)
  3. Attend your first meeting! We can provide outlines for taking notes if you like.

Any questions?

Contact Alex Garrison at alexcgarrison@gmail.com or Linda Duckworth at lindabduckworth@gmail.com.

NE-02 Debate Scheduled for Oct. 18

The League of Women Voters of Greater Omaha and the Omaha Press Club will be hosting a debate between candidates for Nebraska’s second Congressional district, Don Bacon and Kara Eastman, at 12 p.m. on Oct. 18, 2018.

The event will be recorded by WOWT Channel Six and aired on several platforms it has available.

Stay tuned to news from LWVGO for more details closer to the date of the event.

Money in Politics: What’s Happening in Nebraska? Join Us at Dine & Discuss July 23

Join us at our next Dine & Discuss event, happening from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday, July 23 at Valentino’s at 108th & L streets. LWVNE Treasurer Kate High will present results of a research study into campaign donations leading up to the 2016 Unicameral races.

If you’d like to eat, the buffet is $14.14. The presentation will begin at 5:30. RSVPs not required, but you can send questions to web@omahalwv.org or RSVP on Facebook.

Please be aware that the League of Women Voters never supports or opposes political parties or candidates. Advocacy on behalf of parties or candidates is not allowed at our meetings as we discuss the issues.

LWVGO Welcomes New Permanent Vote-by-Mail/Early Voting Request List

The League of Women Voters of Greater Omaha commends the Douglas County Election Commission for enacting a permanent vote-by-mail list. This empowers Douglas County voters to opt into automatically receiving a postcard ahead of every election. This postcard asks the voter if they would like to receive a ballot mailed to them for that election. If they would like to vote early/by mail, the voter sends the postcard back and then receives a ballot in the mail. The voter then mails in (or drops off) their ballot to vote.

Per the Douglas County Election Commission’s media release:
Beginning with the 2018  Statewide Gubinatorial Election, voters may place themselves on Douglas County Early Voting Request List. Voters on this list will be sent an early voting ballot application postcard prior to every scheduled election. When the postcard is received, voters may simply complete the response portion and return it to our office, thereby requesting an early voting ballot to be mailed to the address of their choice.
All early voting ballot applications issued by the Douglas County Election Commission will now include an option for voters to add their name to the Early Voting Request List for future elections.

Voters who would like to request an early voting ballot for the Nov. 6, 2018 election and want to opt in to receive election-notification postcards before every election can get more information from the Douglas County Election Commission’s website.

The League of Women Voters of Greater Omaha is a nonpartisan political organization that envisions a democracy where every person has the desire, the right, the knowledge, and the confidence to participate in elections.

Voting by mail is a proven method that decreases county cost and increases voter turnout. This plan removes barriers to voting for citizens who work long hours, attend school or have transportation issues.

We believe our democracy is strongest when all citizens can vote and we applaud the Douglas County Election Commission for its consistent commitment to increasing voter turnout.

Join LWVGO at the Douglas County Fair

LWVGO GOTV volunteers will be at the Douglas County Fair this weekend. Find our booth to register to vote, to check or update your registration, to get more info on our group, or just to say hi!

  • 12 to 5 p.m. Friday, July 13
  • 12 to 8 p.m. Saturday, July 14
  • 12 to 5 p.m. Sunday, July 15
The fair is operating free shuttles from Village Pointe, Chance Ridge and Metro Community College’s Elkhorn campus.

Join Us at the Peace & Justice Expo July 21st

LWVGO will be participating in the Seventh Annual Omaha Peace & Justice Expo, taking place from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, July 21 at UNO’s Milo Bail Student Center Ballroom. The event is co-sponsored by the UNO Grace Abbott School of Social Work.

LWVGO will be registering voters, providing voter education and encouraging membership.  If you’re interested in learning more about LWVGO, find our booth or contact us ahead of the event.

More info about the event.

Understanding Voting in Nebraska – En Español

Laura Torres habla con activistas comunitarios Lilia Franciscony y Marta Nieves sobre el sistema electoral estadounidense y cómo registrarse para votar y cómo votar en Nebraska.

Go Vote Omaha’s Laura Torres talks to community activists Lilia Franciscony and Marta Nieves about about the American election system and how to register and how to vote in Nebraska.


Insure the Good Life: Sign the Medicaid Expansion Ballot Initiative Petition This Week 

Insure the Good Life volunteers will be collecting signatures to put the issue of Medicaid expansion on the ballot for Nebraskans. Find out more about their events and locations via this map of events. Volunteers will be at Fourth of July celebrations in Omaha, Ralston, Tekamah and Murray.


Join Us June 28 for a Discussion on Redistricting and the Supreme Court

Join us for a facilitated discussion and viewing of a livestream from the League of Women Voters national convention. We’ll watch Nick Stephanopoulos and Ruth Greenwood, who are experts in the redistricting field and will speak on redistricting and the efficiency gap theory. We will hear their perspective as attorneys for the appellees in the case of Gill v. Whitford, which recently saw a ruling by the Supreme Court.

Details of the event: 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. (livestream starts at 7 p.m.) Thursday, June 28, 2018 at UNO’s Barbara Weiss Community Engagement Center, 6400 South University Drive Road North (near 64th & Dodge streets). We’ll be in room 201. Free parking is available in the lot just in front of the CEC; click here for more info on parking.

This event is free and open to the public. No RSVP is required but questions can be sent to web@omahalwv.org and you’re welcome to share the event info on Facebook.

Find out more: The League of Women Voters (US) has a resource page, FAQ sheet and action kit explaining redistricting and related issues, plus what you can do to advocate for fair maps.