Adams County Clerk Ramona Thomas

County Clerk Ramona Thomas. Laura Beahm 1-16-13

One week ahead of the general election, the Adams County Clerk’s Office has seen nearly 82% of early voting ballots returned.

County Clerk Ramona Thomas, who also serves as Adams County Election Commissioner, said Tuesday afternoon her office has received 5,586 ballots back in after having processed 6,831 early ballot applications, for an 81.77% return rate.

“That’s a lot of applications coming through the door that our office processed, so I’m pleased with that that we’ve been able to stay ahead of the workflow,” she said. “I assumed it would be higher, but we’re seeing a lot of traffic in our office this week (for in-person early voting) and perhaps that’s because of how the COVID situation is unfolding and looks to be escalating. People who thought they might go to the polls this time around I think are reconsidering and coming in here last minute.”

Many more voters than usual applied to have their ballots sent to them by mail this year, for marking and return either by mail or by hand delivery to the Adams County Courthouse, because of the ongoing novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, pandemic.

Voters who didn’t request that a ballot be sent to them by mail, but who still wish to vote prior to Election Day on Nov. 3, have the option of doing so in person at the Clerk’s Office inside the courthouse. Monday will be the last day to vote early in person.

Secretary of State Bob Evnen announced late Tuesday morning that early ballots from 395,420 Nebraska voters have been received and accepted by county election officials. As of Oct. 1, Nebraska had a total of 1,252,089 registered voters.

Properly completed early ballots that are received by county election officials prior to the close of the polls on Election Day will be counted.

Once the early ballot return envelopes are verified by county officials, early ballots will be stored securely until the day before the election, when, by law, county officials are permitted to begin counting them. No results will be released until after the polls close on Election Day Nov. 3.

“In most of our counties with larger populations, including Lancaster, Douglas and Sarpy and many other counties as well, the first results posted Tuesday night will be the results of early voting,” Evnen said. “Ballot counts from the polls will come later in the evening. We anticipate that our unofficial results will be posted statewide by the end of the night.”

He encourages registered voters who didn’t ask for early ballots to go to the polls on Nov. 3.

“Just as in the primary election in May, our voters and poll workers will be kept safe at the polls,” he said.

The polls will open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Nov. 3.

Voters can check the status of their early voting ballot, provisional ballot, or look up their polling place on the Secretary of State voter-check website:

The ballots don’t have to be returned to the Clerk’s Office via U.S. mail. In fact, Thomas suggested that with Election Day so close at hand, individuals who haven’t yet returned their early voting ballots now bypass the post office and return those ballots directly to the courthouse.

“I’ve talked to a couple people, even just this morning, that thought they had to mail it back,” she said. “A couple people thought we were closed — maybe they are confusing it with the City Building, I’m not sure. Just so they know they can bring that back in up to 8 p.m. Election Day. We’ve got the drop box (at the south entrance of the courthouse) if they don’t want to go into the courthouse. That is the best method to vote if that’s what you requested.”

If voters who received an early ballot choose to go to the polling location to vote, they are going to be required to vote a provisional ballot.

A provisional ballot is required when there is a question of the voter’s eligibility to vote in the election, or if there is a question of whether the voter is at the right polling location.

It is the same ballot, but it is placed in a special envelope that can be separated on election night.

Provisional ballots aren’t counted that night because election workers will go through the paperwork to determine whether that person was eligible to vote that location or that ballot.

The county’s election canvassing board determines whether a provisional ballot is eligible.

“It’s a necessary process,” Thomas said. “There’s no way around it. Really, the best thing to do is if they asked for that early voting ballot is to vote that way.”