With more than 9,000 ballots, nearly 80% of which came from early voters, Dodge County saw its biggest primary yet Tuesday night.
The total count for ballots cast was 9,254, while 7,275 of those were turned in early, Dodge County Clerk Fred Mytty said.
“We were working seven days a week for a couple weeks to get caught up,” he said. “We just had no idea that that’s how many that we would have.”
Mytty said the counts didn’t get in as fast as he wanted them to be, as Tuesday night’s unofficial results didn’t come in until just after 11:40 p.m.
But the lateness came from new machines installed statewide that require the ballots in groups or batches, which Mytty said meant they had to complete the early voting ballots first.
According to Mytty, 162 of the early ballots had issues, including drink stains or becoming stuck to the envelope and ripping.
“So those kinds of ballots had to be looked at,” he said. “The machine will kick them out as unreadable, so then we had to take that ballot, get a duplicate ballot and then pairs of two people, they would remake a ballot that is a duplicate of that ballot, and then that new ballot goes through the scanner.”
Mytty said around five or six polling locations had to relocate due to construction and/or the COVID-19 pandemic. As Nye Square is not allowing visitors and Arbor Manor has closed, the two were moved to the Nebraska Extension Office.
Additionally, the Fremont City Auditorium location was moved to the Dodge County Courthouse and the Christensen Field location was moved to the Sixth District Probation Office, both due to construction.
“At the Deerfield Clubhouse, the management said that they couldn’t let us into it because they wouldn’t allow their own residents to use the clubhouse yet, so they felt they couldn’t do that for us,” Mytty said. “We moved that to First Lutheran, so we had to do a lot of switching.”
But despite the shrinkage of polling locations, Mytty said just under 2,000 people voted in-person, making the already cautionary polling locations even safer.
“I also want to give some thanks not only to all my 150 election workers countywide, but also to these buildings that we had used as polling places,” he said. “Some of them have not opened up to the public, so we were the first people in there as an open space for people to visit.”
As far as the general election on Nov. 3, Mytty said the county will look to what happens with decisions made by the Nebraska Legislature or Secretary of State Robert Evnen.
But with so many people voting early for the first time during this year’s primary, Mytty said some could prefer the method for future elections.
“That number has been going up steadily, and there’s possibly going to be a time when someday they might just say, ‘Let’s get rid of the polls,’” he said. “I don’t know when that day’s coming, but it might be the next 10 years, who knows.”
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