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New voting machines perform well in Nebraska primary

Staff Writer
Syracuse Journal-Democrat

Nebraska’s 2020 primary not only broke the state’s election records – it shattered them. More then 471,000 voters cast ballots in the history-making election, easily eclipsing the previous record of 413,015 voters set during the 1972 primary. But the number of ballots cast didn’t mark the only first for Nebraska elections. It was also the first time election officials used their new voting system by Election Systems and Software (ES&S).

In January, Nebraska chose to replace the state’s aging voting system in all 93 counties, implementing new ES&S DS450 and DS850 high-throughput central scanners and tabulators in larger jurisdictions, while performing vote tabulation in smaller jurisdictions with new DS200 scanners and tabulators. Implementation and training for all election officials and poll workers took place in the four months leading up to the election.

“The logistics of this election did not just happen,” said Nebraska Secretary of State Bob Evnen. “My thanks to the election officials, poll workers, and the people of ES&S for their support in the rollout of new equipment statewide in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.”

These new scanners helped the state manage a high volume of early voting ballots. In light of the pandemic, the state sent early voting request forms to all registered voters. That action likely contributed to the high rate of early voting, with about 80 percent of Nebraska voters casting their ballots by mail. With increased safety protections at the polls, including masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, disinfectants and social distancing, another nearly 65,000 voters opted to cast their ballots in person on Election Day.

“Nebraska voters refused to allow the terrible pandemic in our midst to stop them from exercising their right to vote,” Secretary Evnen said. “I am very grateful to the 4,000 poll workers who stepped up to open Nebraska’s polls on time and with the proper number of poll workers present. I am very proud to be a Nebraskan every day, and especially so at this moment.”

Every polling place in Nebraska also deployed new ExpressVote universal voting machines, and transitioned to Electionware election management software, allowing jurisdictions of all sizes to easily manage their elections. As a result, Election Day results were posted to the State well before midnight.