Voters To Receive Special Election Ballot For School Bond In Mail

Voters in the Minden Public School District will soon determine whether $25.9 Million in general obligation bonds should be issued to fund a proposed project that will include the construction of a new high school, renovation of the middle school, remodeling at East Elementary, relocation of the bus barn, and demolition of the existing high school building. The special election on September 10, 2013 will be an election by mail and ballots will be mailed to registered voters in the school district sometime between August 21 and 26.
No polling places will be open for this election. Voters will NOT be able to go to a polling place on September 10 to cast their vote. Voters must use the ballot they receive in the mail.
The choice to go with an all-mail election instead of polling places where people vote in person was done primarily to increase voter participation according to Kearney County Clerk/Election Commissioner Myra Johnson.
In a press release from Secretary of State John Gale, the all-mail method can only be used to decide special ballot issues that don’t involve an office vacancy or a recall of an official. Statewide, non-candidate issues in Nebraska conducted exclusively through the mail have had higher voter turnout than non-candidate special elections at polling places in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
The Secretary of State’s office reports that so far in 2013 turnouts for all-mail elections have averaged 49 percent, versus 32 percent for elections using polling places. The last special election held in Minden was for the hospital bonds and according to Johnson had a 31 percent voter turnout. That election was conducted at polling places.
All registered voters who reside in the Minden School District will receive a ballot in the mail. Johnson estimates that there are around 3,000 registered voters in the Minden School District which include residents in parts of Kearney, Franklin and Adams counties. The timeline on when ballots are mailed to voters is set by state statute.
Qualified voters who have not registered can still do so in-person until 6:00 p.m. on August 30. Kearney County residents must register at the office of the Kearney County Clerk/Election Commissioner office at 424 North Colorado, Minden. Franklin County residents must register at the Franklin County Clerk/Election Commissioner office  at 405 15th Ave., Franklin.  Adams County residents must register at the Adams County Clerk/Election Commissioner office at 500 W. 4th St., Hastings. Qualified voters can also register to vote by mail, at an agency, or with a deputy registrar no later than August 23.
The ballot and the return envelope will arrive through postal delivery in a large white envelope. Voters should read and follow instructions carefully. The brown return envelope must be signed by the registered voter. Only one ballot should be returned per envelope and it is important that the ballot inside the envelope is from the person who signs the back of the return envelope.
All ballots must be received at the Kearney County Clerk/Election Commissioner office by 5:00 p.m. on September 10. Late ballots will not be tallied in the vote. Completed ballots can be submitted by mail, in-person or by agent. Regardless of the county you reside in, all ballots must be received through the mail or delivered in-person or by agent to the Kearney County Clerk/Election Commissioner office.
If voters send their ballots by regular mail they need to allow enough time for postal service delivery. Mailed ballots must be received by September 10. Even if an envelope is postmarked by September 10, it won’t be counted unless it is received at the Kearney County Clerk/Election Commissioner office before 5:00 p.m. on September 10.
It will also be important that voters place the correct postage on the envelopes. The return envelope with the completed ballot will require $1.12 in postage if sent through the United States Postal Service as first-class mail. Voters can either purchase the proper postage at the post office or affix two 1st class stamps and one 20 cent Washington stamp to the envelope before mailing. Envelopes that don’t have postage will not be delivered. If you don’t want to mail the ballot it can be dropped off at the Kearney County Clerk’s office before Sept. 10 at 5 p.m.
Voters can call the Kearney County Clerk/Election Commissioner office at 832-2723 to confirm receipt of their ballot.
If a Minden School District registered voter does not receive a ballot in the mail, loses their ballot or marks their ballot incorrectly, they can receive a new ballot. If a voter needs a replacement ballot, he or she must go to the Kearney County Courthouse in-person and sign a form for the replacement ballot.
A sample ballot will appear in the August 28 issue of the Minden Courier.
All ballots received by September 10 at 5:00 p.m. will be checked upon receipt for a valid voter signature on the back of the envelope and placed in the ballot box. Beginning on Monday, September 9th, the Canvassing Board will begin to prepare ballots for electronic scanning. Ballots will be run through the electronic counter starting at 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 10.
The unofficial results will be posted that evening on the Kearney County website at www.kearneycounty.ne.gov/ or voters can call the Kearney County Clerk’s office that evening for the results.
While this isn’t the first all-mail special election in the county, Johnson said that the only other one she knew about was back when they still tallied ballots by hand. She reported that people have been coming in to the courthouse to register as a voter or to update their address.
If anyone has questions about the election process they should contact the Kearney County Clerk/Election Commissioner office. To confirm registration as a voter, contact the county clerk/election commissioner in the county you reside in.
Information about the proposed new school and details on the bond issue can be found on the Minden Public Schools website. The school is also hosting open meetings to answer questions about the project at 7:00 p.m. on August 27 and September 3 in the Minden High School gymnasium.

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