Nebraska voters on Tuesday will pick their next governor, a senator, three House members and give the up-or-down on whether to expand Medicaid coverage.
They’ll also choose a whole slate of legislators, local school board members, some mayors and other local seats.
Here’s what Nebraska voters need to know:
When can I vote?
Polls are open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Central time.
How can I vote?
On Tuesday, you must vote at your polling place or, if you already requested an early voting ballot, you can turn that in at the election office or a drop box until 8 p.m. Early ballots cannot be turned in at your polling place.
How do I find my polling place?
What should I do if they say I’m not registered, but I know I am?
First call your local election commission. They can help you make sure you’re at the right polling place. You can always fill out a provisional ballot, and the election office will look into it and count the ballot if you were eligible to vote.
What if I moved and forgot to update my voter registration?
If you moved within your county, you must go to your new polling place and fill out a provisional ballot.
What if I can’t get to the polls?
Several groups offer rides to the polls.
The Nebraska Republican Party plans to offer rides in some areas of the state and they can be reached at 402-413-0227 or Caitlin@negop.org.
What if I suspect voter fraud or see another irregularity at the polls?
You can call the Secretary of State’s election integrity hotline: 888-727-0007 or 402-471-2555.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Laurie Kelly also will be taking calls about suspected election fraud or voting rights abuses at 402-661-3700.
Civic Nebraska also plans to have nearly 120 trained monitors at polls in seven counties, including Douglas and Sarpy, to observe and take reports when people are turned away. The organization has an election day hotline: 402-904-5191.
A coalition of news outlets led by ProPublica is also monitoring election issues nationwide. You can alert them with this form or by texting the word VOTE, VOTA (for Spanish) or 投票 (for Chinese) to 81380 (standard text message rates apply).
What if I change my mind or need to ask a question?
Once you put your ballot in the box you can’t take it back. If you think there’s a problem or you have a question and need to contact the election commission, do that before you submit your ballot.
Nebraska’s elections officials say your ballot is secure. Here’s how they know
Nebraskans casting ballots Tuesday can find comfort in the flat, familiar feel of paper ballots.
Those plain paper ballots, and post-election audits of voters’ choices, remain the best defenses against cyber criminals aiming to disrupt or change the results of American elections, say election security experts.
“Having an official ballot of record be a paper record is critical in improving voters’ confidence in elections,” said Tammy Patrick of the Democracy Fund, formerly a federal election compliance officer in Maricopa County, Arizona.
Nebraska Secretary of State John Gale’s office has seen no evidence of outside efforts to tamper with Nebraska’s voter registration rolls or Election Day results, said Wayne Bena, deputy secretary of state for elections.
But parts of every election system are vulnerable to outside interference, so election officials in Nebraska are taking no chances, say Bena and experts from independent groups that monitor election security nationally.
The state is working with private partners to prevent hackers from toying with voter registration databases and vote-tally sharing websites, including a new 24/7 network monitoring system that flags unauthorized intrusions.
This device, an Albert monitor, will watch the computer system that collects registrations from the Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles, the state online voter registration website and county election officials.
One of the private contractors working with the state of Nebraska is Omaha-based Election Systems & Software, which manufactures, services and supports voting machines and vote-counting machines in 42 states.
In 2016, the Omaha company and others working on elections saw nation states and cyber criminals access try to access voter information, said Chris Wlaschin, vice president of systems security for ES&S. In Illinois, hackers reached voter data, but officials said they did not change anything.
This time, ES&S, which holds the contract for Nebraska’s voter registrations, worked with the Department of Homeland Security and the Secretary of State to add the monitoring device to the system’s network.
“The scanning activity that was reported in 2016, the efforts … to try to compromise our critical infrastructure really was a wake-up call that we needed to up our game,” said Wlaschin of election security nationally.
This is the same network monitoring device the state of Nebraska’s computer networks use to protect the personal and financial information of Nebraskans who pay taxes and do business with the state, officials said.
The devices are being used to protect voter data in 36 states. They check in with a Center for Internet Security monitoring center in Albany, New York. Each can cost upward of $15,000.
The value of such monitoring is two-fold, said Patrick, the election security expert. It communicates patterns to others monitoring Internet traffic, and it notifies election officials of where to watch for compromised systems.
The bulk of election security still rests with local and state election officials, who say they work to make sure election equipment is built and maintained to the highest standards and to keep tabs on registrations.
The state this year added a layer of additional security for the counties who access the state voter database, two-factor authentication. Officials say the effort includes monitoring to make sure the database is accessed properly.
Cameras monitor vote counting and storage, as do independent election monitors and, in some instances, visiting officials from the U.S. Department of Justice, Douglas County Election Commissioner Brian Kruse said.
Voting machines and vote-counting machines are never connected to the Internet, Wlaschin and Bena said, so adding additional security to voter rolls should help prevent the potential of registration-related shenanigans.
But, in the event of a registration mix-up, voters can request a provisional ballot. Fill it out and the accompanying voter registration form, and election officials say they will check records and see if they can count your vote.
“We want people to know their vote is secure and safe,” Kruse said. “And we want them to show up and vote.”