Join LWVNE for Legislative Day on Feb. 19

The League of Women Voters of Greater Omaha participates in the yearly League of Women Voters of Nebraska legislative/lobby day and encourages all interested folks — members and nonmembers — to join as well.

LWVNE Legislative Day is to learn about how to effectively lobby state legislators as well as to put theory into practice. The day finishes with a “lunch and learn” presentation.

This year’s Legislative Day takes place from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19, in Lincoln. The full schedule is listed below.

The featured luncheon speaker is Danielle Conrad, former state senator and current executive director of the ACLU of Nebraska, speaking on the topic of Criminal Justice Reform.

For more info and to register (registration is required and the deadline to register is Feb. 8), go to lwv-ne.org.

8:30 to 9 — Nebraska State Education Association Meeting Room

Registration and Refreshments. Note that parking is NOT available.

9 to 10:15 — Nebraska State Education Association Meeting Room

The Legislative process; LWVNE Priorities presented by LWVNE Action Directors: Lynne Elwood, Government; Phyllis Salyards, Health Care; John Else, Social Policy.

10:15 to 11:50 — State Capitol

Visit with senators, observe Unicameral in session, tour Capitol.

11:50 to 1 — Governor’s Mansion

Luncheon (Salmon with a Quinoa & Asparagus Salad) + speaker.


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.

Voting Rights Bills Introduced in First Days of Unicameral Session

The 106th Nebraska Legislature convened on Jan. 9 for its 90-day first session. Senators have until Jan. 23 to introduce legislation to vote on during this session (should it move out of committee). LWVGO policy team volunteers will be monitoring bills as the session continues, and will publish calls to action as needed.

Interested in volunteering as a Unicameral monitor?

Join us for our Legislative Update on Jan. 28. Following the Dine & Discuss event, the LWVGO policy team will meet to assign bills to monitor and talk about how to follow the Unicameral developments. If you’re not able to join us for the event, email web@omahalwv.org to learn more about how to get involved.

Several voting-rights-related bills have already been introduced.

The following text, identifying these introduced bills, comes from an update from Civic Nebraska. Sign up to be a Voting Rights Advocate with Civic Nebraska to get updates as more legislation is introduced and calls to action are published.

LB83, introduced by Sen. Justin Wayne, would provide for the immediate restoration of voting rights upon completion of a felony sentence or probation for a felony. This bill would ensure that nearly 8,000 Nebraskans who have served their time but who are currently barred from voting can fully rejoin our democracy and become more engaged members of their communities.

LR2, introduced by Sen. Carol Bloodwould rescind any previous resolutions calling for an Article V U.S. constitutional convention, removing Nebraska from the list of states with open applications that call for a dangerous constitutional convention.

LB211, introduced by Sen. Sue Crawford, provides for the nonpartisan election of county officers. This bill would help counties focus on policy, rather than parties, for local elections.

LB163, introduced by Sen. Megan Hunt, will encourage local control in elections by allowing counties of any size to take advantage of a vote by mail standard in one or more precincts, with the secretary of state’s permission. 

Should Nebraskans Have Access to Legal Medical Marijuana? A Discussion with Sen. Anna Wishart

In this episode of Go Vote, Omaha!, Geri Simon talks with Nebraska State Senator Anna Wishart of Lincoln (LD 27) about proposed legislation (LB 110) to legalize medical cannabis. LB 110 is Sen. Wishart’s priority bill for 2019.

Go Vote Omaha! is our locally produced informational television program. Watch Go Vote Omaha at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday nights on Cox channel 22 or CenturyLink channel 89 or anytime on YouTube.

A New Year’s Message from the National League

At the beginning of the new Congress, and we are proud to support the first piece of legislation introduced in the House —HR1—a bill that stands to improve American elections by making them freer, fairer, and more accessible to all eligible Americans.

HR1 includes comprehensive reforms, like restoring the Voting Rights Act, improving Automatic Voter Registration, creating a public financing system through small donor matching funds, overturning Citizens United, ending partisan gerrymandering, and more! The League worked behind the scenes to influence the language of this legislation, including a push to include Same Day Registration.

This bill will make our elections fairer, put the power back into the hands of the American people, and it deserves bipartisan support.  We’re asking all of our members and supporters to click here to call their Representative and ask them to vote Yes for HR1.

LWVGO’s 2018 Get Out the Vote Accomplishments

LWVGO’s 243 Get Out the Vote volunteers accomplished a great deal in 2018. Volunteers devoted more than 2,500 hours to making democracy work by registering voters, answering questions about voting and hosting candidate forums to give voters more opportunity to make informed decisions.

LWVGO’s nonpartisan voter registrars registered more than 1,200 new voters, getting many high schoolers, college students, new citizens and Douglas County community members engaged in voting for the first time.

We published 8,400 voters’ guides, sent nearly 1,500 voter-engagement postcards and published 29 candidates and issue forums.

We thank all our volunteers, voters and community partners for excellent work throughout 2018 and look forward to continuing our work in 2019 and beyond!

View the full annual report below.

Great Decisions Book Club Launches for 2019

Every year, LWVGO hosts a discussion group called Great Decisions, based on materials produced by the nonpartisan Foreign Policy Association.

Great Decisions runs on Thursday afternoons at the Swanson branch of the Omaha Public Library, launching on Jan. 10 and ending March 7 (the group will skip Feb. 14 and any days that the library is closed due to snow). Its strengths lie in tying together many individual news items into a cohesive whole, raising in-depth questions, then encouraging each person to decide the best policy.

Beginning with a short movie on the week’s reading, last year’s group tackled issues such as policies toward China, Russia, Global Health, and a comparison between Woodrow Wilson and Donald Trump. Some of this year’s segments include Refugees and Global Migration, The Rise of Populism in Europe, Cyber Conflicts and Geopolitics, and The United States and Mexico: Partnership Tested.

To participate in the discussion, order your own briefing book (as soon as possible) from fpa.org. Cost this year is $32 plus shipping.

Event Dates & Topics

All Great Decisions discussions take place from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Swanson Branch of the Omaha Public Library, 9101 W Dodge Rd. Optionally RSVP on Facebook or contact web@omahalwv.org with any questions.

  • Jan. 10: Intro – American Foreign Policy in 2019: a Framework for Analysis  +  Refugees and Global Migration
  • Jan. 17: The Middle East: Regional Disorder
  • Jan. 24: Nuclear Negotiations: Back to the Future
  • Jan. 31: The Rise of Populism in Europe
  • Feb. 7: Decoding U.S. China Trade
  • Feb. 21: Cyber Conflicts and Geopolitics
  • Feb. 28: The United States and Mexico: Partnership Tested
  • March 7: State of the State Department and Diplomacy

Join Us at Urban Abbey for ‘What Immigration Teaches Us About Who We Are’ on Jan. 10 and ‘The Current Border Crisis and How You Can Get Involved’ on Jan. 22

LWVGO is hosting two talks with immigration themes — titled
What Immigration Teaches Us About Who We Are and The Current Border Crisis and How You Can Get Involved — on two different evenings in January, both hosted at Urban Abbey in the Old Market.

What Immigration Teaches Us About Who We Are

6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019 at Urban Abbey, 1026 Jackson St.

Kathleen Erickson, RSM, has been involved in immigration ministry since 1991.  She spent nearly 20 years at the US/MX border working with immigrant women.  She has provided spiritual support to detained immigrants in Federal Detention Centers and county jails and recently spent three weeks volunteering in El Paso as 2,000 immigrants a week have been released by ICE with a need for shelter and support. She is committed to raising awareness about the need for deeper examination of the complex causes of immigration and the call for response.

Sister Kathleen Erickson
Sister Kathleen Erickson

RSVP on Facebook | Add to Calendar

The Current Border Crisis and How You Can Get Involved

6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019 at Urban Abbey, 1026 Jackson St.

Galina Bruckner is a certified human rights advocate and has been a part of the fight for justice for migrant and asylum-seekers for 8 years, having worked for the cause in Mexico, Germany, and the US. She has a degree in Cross-Cultural Studies and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Galina recently spent 6 weeks as a volunteer with the organization No More Deaths, a community working to prevent death and suffering in the Sonoran desert.   

RSVP on Facebook | Add to Calendar

These events are open to the public and free of charge.

Please consider purchasing a drink or a snack from Urban Abbey’s many (delicious) options — to support both their mission and LWVGO’s as they have generously selected us as their nonprofit of the month for January!

Legislative Update with LWVGO Policy Directors Scheduled for Jan. 28

Join us for our first Dine & Discuss of the new year, held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Monday, January 28, 2019, at Valentino’s at 108th & L streets.

The Dine & Discuss will feature LWVGO Policy Chairs Peggy Adair and Darci Garcia, who will discuss the new session of the Nebraska Legislature.

Peggy and Darci will present a short “Legislature 101” to familiarize you with the unique unicameral, and will then discuss the bills that have been introduced this session that are of interest to the League. They will also review effective lobbying at LWV Legislative Day at the Nebraska Legislature. (This exciting opportunity to meet with your Senators takes place on Tuesday, February 19 beginning at 8:30am in Lincoln. For more information and to register, please go to lwv-ne.org.)

After their presentation, they will have a short meeting for those interested in participating in policy research for specific areas.

If you’d like to eat (you do not have to dine to discuss), the buffet is $14.14. Drinks included (wine and beer are extra). RSVP to our office omahalwv@gmail.com or 402-344-3701, or via Facebook, is optional.


Books After Dark: “It’s Up to the Women” by Eleanor Roosevelt Discussion on Jan. 15

“Women, whether subtly or vociferously, have always been a tremendous power in the destiny of the world.” – Eleanor Roosevelt in “It’s Up to the Women”

Join us in the New Year to discuss “It’s Up to the Women” by Eleanor Roosevelt with us!

We’re meeting from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 15 at Corkscrew Wine & Cheese, 10924 Prairie Brook Rd.