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While we may not all agree on political issues or candidates, one thing we can all agree on is the fact that this has been a very contentious election season. And now we are in the final countdown - just five days away.

If you have not registered to vote in the Nov. 3 general election, you are out of luck this time around. Deadlines for registering by mail, online or in person have all passed.

In Nebraska an ID is not required to vote in person. Early in-person voting in the state began on Oct. 5 and continues through the end of the business day on Monday, Nov. 2. Mail in ballots must be received in the Dawson County Clerk’s office by 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 3. That means by the time you read this they should already be in the mail.

According to the Current Population Survey from the U.S. Census Bureau, presidential elections typically have a higher voter turnout than midterm elections. Most recently, the midterm election of 2018 set record-breaking turnout for a congressional election, with a historic 11 percentage point increase from the last midterm election in 2014. Voter turnout went up among all voting age and major racial and ethnic groups.

For example, in the 2018 congressional election about a quarter of registered voters reported they were too busy to vote. Yet, in any election demographic characteristics, such as education level, income and age, are all factors that may affect turnout at the polls.

In general, women are more likely than men to register and vote. Most districts, about 4 in 5, have more citizen voting-age women than men, according to the American Community Survey. In Nebraska’s 3rd Congressional District, which includes Dawson County, there were 213,304 votes cast in 2018 which accounts for a 48.5% turnout.

While experts like to use these facts and figures in an effort to predict voter turnout and demographics, the truth is it’s anyone’s guess. Most agree that Nebraska will likely see a higher than average number of voters casting ballots this year; partly due to the presidential election, and partly due to the gaming initiatives on the state’s ballot. Those three initiatives - 429, 430 and 431 - have become a hot-button topic throughout Nebraska.

A fourth initiative, 428, would cap payday lending interest rates. Along with the four initiatives, two amendments will also be up for vote. The state legislature referred a measure that would repeal language allowing slavery or involuntary servitude as criminal punishments (Amendment 1), and a measure that would increase the repayment period for TIF from 15 to 20 years for areas designated as extremely blighted (Amendment 2).

A measure to legalize medical marijuana was certified for the ballot by the secretary of state but was later removed by the state Supreme Court citing its violation of the state’s single-subject rule. In Nebraska, citizens have the power to initiate constitutional amendments, state statutes, and veto referendums, but not constitutional amendments. Voters approved a constitutional amendment for initiative and referendum powers in 1912.

In Nebraska, the number of registered voters in the state determines the required number of signatures needed to get a measure on the ballot. Therefore, petitioners cannot know the number of signatures required until signatures are submitted for verification. According to the July 2020 voter registration report, there were a total of 1,222,741 registered voters in Nebraska at the time of the state’s signature deadline.

The Nebraska State Legislature can refer statewide ballot measures, in the form of constitutional amendments, to the ballot. Nebraska requires a 60% vote in the state Senate during one legislative session to refer a constitutional amendment to a general election ballot.

Along with the office of President of the U.S., Nebraskans will also elect one senator for the seat currently filled by Ben Sasse (R) who has held that office since 2014. Chris Janicek (D) and Gene Siadek (L) are running against Sasse. Meanwhile, the seats of all three members of Congress from Nebraska will be decided. Adrian Smith (R), the incumbent for the 3rd Congressional District, is being opposed by Mark Elworth, Jr. (D).  

Remember, you can take advantage of early voting in-person at the Dawson County Courthouse until the close of the day Monday, Nov. 2. While it is too late to request an early ballot by mail, Dawson County Clerk Karla Zlatkovsky said voters may come into the office and request an early ballot. They may then either vote right then, or take the ballot with them and bring it back to the Clerk’s office by Nov. 3.

“We really ask that if you get an early ballot you fill it out and bring it back,” said Zlotkovsky. She said anyone who requests an early ballot but then shows up at the poll to vote must then file a provisional ballot. “And that includes a lot of paperwork for both the voter and us, and is very time consuming,” she added.

Early requested ballots CAN NOT be dropped off at the poll.

Contact Ellen Mortensen at ellen@gothenburgleader.com or call 308.537.9498