HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - Tuesday is the first election for Nebraskans in the COVID-19 era. Some took their chances to vote in person, but many Adams County voters did their civic duty through the mail.
Nebraskans had their first election during the pandemic era, many in Adams County didn't want to risk the polls and voted through the mail. (KSNB)
The Adams County Clerk said 7519 voters opted to vote from the comfort of their own homes with mail-in ballots. By Election Day over 6,000 had already returned their ballots. In the 2016 primary, only 7248 Adams County voters turned out. The clerk said they have never had that many early voting applications.
“It's crazy. Essentially we were running two elections,” Ramona Thomas said. “We were dealing with the massive quantity of mail out ballots and then having to have everything ready for election day”
The polls still had to be opened with safety measures in place. Only the Good Samaritan Village location was moved to the fairgrounds for safety. Just across the lot, National Guard testing for COVID-19 was taking place. Usually retirees volunteer to be poll workers, but with the health risk, younger people stepped up to do the job for them.
“It's definitely different trying to keep your distance from everybody,” Poll Worker Abby Queen said. “It's good to see people still turning out to vote because everyone needs to vote.”
The polling sites were quiet for the morning and lunch rushes. They expect that is mainly due to the mail-in option being so popular.
“I do have a feeling that once they have participated in early voting once that they are more likely to participate in it moving forward,” Thomas said.
If people do want to vote early for the November election, they will have to apply again to get their mail-in ballot when the application becomes available.