Those applying for an early voter ballot in Hall County will notice an addition to the form.
A checkbox has been added asking the applicant if they want their name added to an early voting request list.
Marking that box puts the voter on a mailing list to receive an application postcard in the mail before every election. Signing and returning the card will get them an early ballot without having to visit the election commissioner’s office.
Simplification of the application process was approved by the Hall County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, making the county one of five in Nebraska to have an early voting mailing list.
“I think it will really help voters in the long run, particularly those voters that maybe have some challenges getting around and down to the election office every year,” said Hall County Election Commissioner Tracy Overstreet.
Joining the list eliminates having to make a trip to the county election office to fill out paperwork for an early ballot and serves as a reminder to voters for an upcoming election.
There were about 1,100 early voters in Hall County during the May 15 primary election that had a voter turnout of 22 percent. Overstreet said a mailing list could increase the number of people voting.
“I just want people to get out and vote. I hope this encourages people and makes it a little easier for them so they don’t have to fill out the same form every single election. We can just send the application to them and they’ll be good to go to get their ballot,” she said.
Douglas was the most recent county in Nebraska before Hall to offer an early voting list. Other counties include Lancaster, Lincoln and Gage.
Lancaster County has about 24,000 people on its early voter card list out of about 188,000 registered voters. Lincoln County has 2,087 people on its list out of nearly 24,000 voters. Gage County has 4,222 out of more than 14,000 voters. Douglas started offering an early voting list earlier this month.
There will be a cost to print and mail postcards. Overstreet estimates it will cost about 50 cents per postcard. So, if the county has 1,000 people on the mailing list, it will cost about $500 to mail postcards before every election.
Even with the cost of printing and mailing, Overstreet said having more applications processed earlier in an election cycle will likely equalize the workflow in her office and reduce costs for contract labor.
The list in Hall County will begin to be complied immediately and utilized in elections after the Nov. 6 general election.
Applications for early ballots began to be taken July 9. Overstreet said those who have already applied and wish to be on the list can contact her office. Early voting is allowed for any reason under state law.
Early voter applications are available at the election commissioner’s office and online at www.hallcounty.ne.gov.
Also during the meeting, the board approved Hall County to act as the governmental applicant for a $1 million Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for Heritage Disposal and Storage.
The business disposes and recycles ammunition and explosives. It recently received a $21 million Department of Defense contract to dispose of smoke grenades. The project will require Heritage Disposal to make an investment into the facilities and grounds and increase its workforce by at least 40 full-time equivalent employees.
Part of the CDBG program is to help to create jobs through expansion and retention of businesses. The CDBG money would be used to expand Heritage Disposal.
CDBG funds are from the Housing and Urban Development and administered through the Nebraska Department of Economic Development. CDBG program requires a local government, in this case Hall County, to be an applicant.