With 61 days to go, Clerks prepare for election day
Around 50 people a day are going online to check on their voting status in the run-up to the November election.
While ballots will be mailed to every active voter in Douglas County, what voters do with those ballots is very much up to them.
“We’re going into this election knowing it’s going to be a hybrid,” Clerk-Treasurer Kathy Lewis said. “We’re expecting historic numbers, knowing that we’ll have more voters by mail than ever before while we’ll have more voting in person than we’ve ever seen before.”
Lewis estimates that 60 percent of Douglas voters will choose to cast a ballot in person, either during early voting or on Election Day.
The other 40 percent may mail in their ballots, but they will also be able to drop them off at polling places, or at election tents that will go up around the county starting on Sept. 28, four days after ballots go into the mail.
Lewis said election workers will be setting up the tent in a variety of locations during early voting so people can drop off the ballots they received in the mail in person.
Today, she is scheduled to provide an update to county commissioners on the election process and ask for money to purchase 33 more poling machines.
The county will only have half the polling places open it did in November 2018, but Lewis said there will be just as many machines set up.
Douglas County’s four community centers will be pressed into service on Election Day for voters.
In-person voting will be available at the Douglas County, Kahle, Topaz Ranch Estates and Dresslerville community centers.
“We need space to socially distance and the community centers were the best option,” she said.
One of the places that won’t be covered is the north county, where residents typically vote at the Sunridge Fire Station.
“The manned fire stations are not good options for us,” she said. “We will have a tent there to provide some service to them.”
Lewis said they’ve been meeting with postal officials who’ve committed to postmarking every ballot and to treat the ballots as first-class mail.
She asked that if someone receives a ballot for a voter who doesn’t live at an address to write “not at this address” and put it back in the mail.
“We’re trying to get people to help us clean up the voter rolls,” she said.
Other modifications to the envelopes including a note to the post office not to confuse the sender with the clerk’s office and to provide a cover for people’s signature.
“The hurdle is COVID,” Election Manager Dena Dawson said. “We have to be able to hire the election workers, and to disinfect all of the tools they used. We’re looking at how on Election Day, we do not have these giant lines because we’re taking the time between each voter to disinfect and sanitize.”
Another challenge is to keep voters from wiping things down themselves, because the machines require a specific cleaner.
“Our goal is keeping everybody safe,” Dawson said.
Battling misinformation is a key issue for the clerk’s office this election.
“Our motto this time is that we want to be the trusted source,” Dawson said. “We don’t want voters to feed into the misinformation, but to contact us directly.”
Lewis said the clerk’s office is staffing to provide information to voters.
Release of results will be similar to what happened for the primary with initial totals release on Election Night and updated over the next week as ballots arrive in the mail or have signatures cured by voters.