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Nebraska officials warn against ‘ballot harvesting’

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LINCOLN, Neb. (KTIV) - Nebraska election officials believe November's general election will look similar to the primary.

During a news conference on Wednesday, Secretary of State Bob Evnen said on average, 75% of voters in the state vote in person, and 25%vote by mail.

Evnen said COVID-19 restrictions flipped those numbers during the primary election. He anticipates, after a better understanding of the virus, those numbers for people voting in person will go up for the November 3rd General Election. And everyone should be safe if they head to the polls.

"We will have all of the protective equipment, all of the protective protocols in place for the primary election. Those will be in place again in our General election. So voters can feel safe, our poll workers can feel safe," said Evnen.

Evnen said so far, the state has logged more than 350,000 early ballot request forms for the general election.

A term you may be hearing this election cycle is something called "ballot harvesting."

Ballot harvesting is when a voter fills out their absentee ballot and seals it, then gives it to a third-party to drop off at a collection box or mail.

In Nebraska, election law requires absentee ballots to be in, by the close of polls on election day.

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts described a situation where a campaign in Rhode Island went to a long-term care facility and helped the elderly fill out the forms. He said this practice could ultimately open people up to voter fraud.

"Someone can take your ballot in Nebraska, and if they throw it away, there is no penalty. So they can promise that they are going to take it in. But if they don't then you have no recourse and your vote won't count. So that is why we want people to be really, really cautious with regards to ballot harvesting," said Ricketts.

Ricketts says they have seen some ballot harvesting in the state. He said if you intend to have someone else drop off your ballot, make sure it is someone you know and trust.

Watch Gov. Ricketts full news conference here.

Blake Branch

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