Front - COLOR - 11.5.2020

Charlene and Sam Leap volunteered their time to man the West Ward polling site at the United Methodist Church on Tuesday. There was a steady line of voters most of the day.

Pandemic or not, Americans were determined to make their voices heard and turned out in record numbers across the nation for Tuesday’s general election. What makes this election especially unique is the number of early and mail-in ballots that were cast prior to election day - more than ever recorded in our history.

Nebraska Secretary of State Robert Evnen said about 510,000 Nebraskans voted by early ballot, far surpassing any number from a previous election. And Evnen said verifying those ballots by comparing voter’s signatures on the envelopes could take days.

Of course the biggest race on the ticket was that of President of the United States. Nebraska is one of a handful of states that operates on the electoral college system and divides the state’s five electoral votes. The top vote getter overall in the state receives two of those votes, while the other three are divided by congressional district. President Donald Trump picked up the win in two of the three districts, and earned the other two electoral votes as well. Joe Biden won Nebraska’s second district and earned that electoral vote.

Statewide issues of interest for our area include races for Senate, as incumbent Ben Sasse held onto his seat, and Congress where Adrian Smith was handily re-elected to represent the third district.

Four initiatives also appeared on the ballot, and it appears all four have passed. Initiative 428 deals with payday lending, while the other three initiatives - 429, 430 and 431 - would institute casinos in the state. The gaming initiatives have come before Nebraska voters before, but this time about 65% of voters so far have favored those initiatives.

With such a large turnout and so many absentee/early ballots turned in, counting the votes was a long process. It was nearly 2 a.m. when Dawson County Clerk Karla Zlatkovsky and her team finished counting and were able to release local results. A total of 9,284 of the county’s 13,796 registered voters participated in the 2020 election. That equates to a 67.29% voter turnout.

On the national level Dawson County voters heavily favored President Trump, casting 6,487 for the incumbent to Joe Biden’s 2,484. The county also followed suit with the rest of the congressional district as both Ben Sasse and Adrian Smith easily won the vote here.

For county commissioner representing District 1, Dean Kugler ran unopposed and received 98.99% of the vote with 22 being cast for a write-in candidate. Gothenburg’s Jay Richeson also ran unopposed for the sub-district 1 seat on the Central Platte NRD board where there were 25 write-in votes.

The one contested local race was that for Gothenburg City Council East Ward, where J Buddenberg has been declared the unofficial winner in a very close race. Buddenberg received 400 votes to just edge out his opponent, Will Rahjes who earned 374 votes. Jeff Kennedy ran unopposed for the West Ward seat.

On the amendment and initiative issues Dawson County voters agreed with the state majority by voting for both amendments, though both were quite close. The payday lending initiative won by a landslide in Dawson County, while all three gaming initiatives had a narrow margin of victory from local voters.

The retention of five judges was also on the ballot, with voters in Dawson County strongly voting in favor of keeping them all in office.

Three candidates for Gothenburg School Board appeared on the ballot, with all three being elected. Becky Jobman and Kyle Fornoff are both incumbents on the board, and Kelly Terrell will be joining the board in January.

Both Roger Tederman and Lorie Hoesel will serve on the Gothenburg Airport Authority, with Tederman receiving 1,224 votes and Hoesel garnering 847.

In other local races of interest, it was a tight race for Cozad City Council West Ward where Torrey Kloppenborg narrowly defeated Debra McArdle, 346 votes to 323. Ronald Olds ran unopposed for the East Ward seat on the Cozad council.

All of these results are unofficial at this time, and as of the early morning hours on Wednesday an official winner of the presidency had not yet been declared. The Leader will have complete results of the 2020 election in the Nov. 12 edition.

Contact Ellen Mortensen at or call 308.537.9498