Nebraskans will vote in gubernatorial, state and other local primaries on May 15. For residents of Fremont and Dodge County, there are several noteworthy races taking place.
At the county level, there are four Republican primary races.
The incumbent Dodge County Attorney Oliver Glass will seek the nomination over a challenger, Fremont lawyer Bryan Meismer. The winner will go on to the general election to face Democrat Pamela Lynn Hopkins of Nickerson, who, without an opponent, is automatically chosen to be the Democratic nominee.
For Dodge County Register of Deeds, three candidates are seeking the nomination. That includes the current Register of Deeds Carol Givens, along with two challengers: Michelle Growcock and Terry Synovec. All of the candidates are from Fremont and no Democrats have filed for candidacy.
Meanwhile, two members of the Dodge County Board of Supervisors face primary challengers. District 1 Supervisor Rob George will face challenger Bob Bendig and District 7 Supervisor James Vaughan faces two challengers: Doug Backens and Kirk Brown.
There’s one primary race for Fremont City Council, which is a non-partisan race, meaning that there are not separate Republican and Democrat primaries. Incumbent Councilman for the Second Ward Steven Landholm is up against Jim Bloom and Glen Ellis. The top two candidates from that primary will advance to the general election.
At the city level, there’s also three bond issues up for consideration on primary day. One would construct an addition to the Fremont Splash Station, another would construct an addition to Keene Memorial Library and the third would renovate Fremont City Auditorium. Each bond issue is slated for an amount not to exceed $2 million.
Statewide, Gov. Pete Ricketts faces a primary challenge from Krystal Gabel of Omaha. There’s also a three-way Democratic Primary between Omaha residents Vanessa Gayle Ward, Tyler Davis and Bob Krist. There are two candidates for the Republican primary for Secretary of State — Bob Evnen and Debra Perrell—and two candidates in the Republican primary for state treasurer—John Murante and Taylor Royal.
There are primaries for other state offices that have only one candidate running — like the Republican primary for Auditor of Public Accounts, where former Fremont City Councilman and State Sen. Charlie Janssen is running for re-election. While these primaries only have one candidate, votes are still tallied. At the county level and below, candidates who are running unopposed are automatically nominated to run in the general election, according to Dodge County Clerk Fred Mytty.
There are also two crowded primaries for the U.S. Senate. Incumbent Sen. Deb Fischer will face primary challenges from fellow Republicans Jack Heidel, Dennis Frank Macek, Jeffrey Lynn Stein and Todd Watson. And on the Democratic side, Fremont resident Larry Marvin is up against Jane Raybould, Frank B. Svoboda and Chris Janicek.
Mytty, a Democrat who is seeking re-election unopposed, said the county usually sees voter turnout of about 30 percent during the gubernatorial primaries.
“Gubernatorial is less than presidential with the exception when Dave Heineman was governor,” Mytty told the Tribune. “He was from Fremont, so we had a surge that year.”
The presidential primaries usually come in at about 40 percent.
The primaries also bring out fewer voters than the general election in November, which usually has a voter turnout rate of about 60 to 70 percent.
“All you’re doing in a primary is just to get nominations narrowed down for the general election, so sometimes, I don’t know, the average person maybe feels, let other people decide who that nomination is,” Mytty said.
The last day to register to vote via mail or online is April 30. Registration also can be done at the county clerk’s office until 6 p.m. May 4. Dodge County currently has 22,012 registered voters.
As of April 9, the county has opened up early voting, inviting those who applied for early voting to cast their ballots by mail. And as of Monday, voters can cast early ballots at the County Clerk’s office. Early voting at the election office can take place until May 14, the day before the primary.
In 2016, 818 voted early in the primary, Mytty said. That’s compared to 589 in 2014. Both years had similar voter turnouts.
“We think that it’s becoming a trend of voters’ habits,” Mytty said. “There’s still many that want to go to the polls as a patriotic act of doing things. But for convenience’s sake, there’s people that like to vote early.”
The only people who need I.D. to vote are those who have registered to vote by mail and have never voted in an election before, Mytty added.
Ahead of primary day, the county is looking for election workers to help at the polls. Those workers are paid minimum wage for their help.
“We need them in various places throughout the county, so we’ll take any call from anybody,” Mytty said.
On election day, the polls are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. It’s important to come out that day and perform a civic duty, Mytty argued.
“It’s that old argument that you can’t gripe if you haven’t voted,” he said. “We should take pride in being part of a country where you have the ability to vote for your leaders and your issues. We have three (bond) issues for the city of Fremont. That’s your pocketbook that you’re talking about.”