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Nearly 1,000 more voters have registered in Saunders County
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Nearly 1,000 more voters have registered in Saunders County

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WAHOO – County election officials reports an uptick of nearly 1,000 registered voters as the General Election draws near.

Saunders County Election Commissioner Patti Lindgren reported on Monday that 15,800 voters had registered in the county as of Monday. The deadline for registration was Oct. 23.

That is 989 more registered voters compared to the last presidential election in 2016, Lindgren added.

“Growth-wise in four years for Saunders County, that’s pretty good,” she said.

Statistics on early voter ballots in Saunders County are also catching attention. The COVID-19 pandemic has made early voting the hot ticket this year, according to Lindgren. Her office has issued 5,529 early voter ballots as of Monday, which is 33% of all registered voters in the county.

“Normally early voter ballots are becoming more and more popular anyway, but because of COVID it’s even more so,” she added.

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The precinct with the highest percentage of early voter ballot requests was Ashland Rural, with 43% of voters asking for an early ballot. In Wahoo Ward II, 39% of voters are planning to cast their ballot early, while 38% in Ward I have also requested early voter ballots.

Of the early voter ballots, over 60% have been returned already, Lindgren added. All ballots must be returned to the election office at the Saunders County Courthouse by 8 p.m. on Election Day (Nov. 3). Early voter ballots cannot be turned in at a local polling place on election day.

“Poll workers are told not to take them,” Lindgren said.

Very few early voter ballots have been rejected or suspended in the county so far. Lindgren said eight have been rejected and seven rejected. Most of the rejections were because the envelope was not signed by the voter or the signature cannot be verified, she explained.

Voter turnout in Saunders County is generally above 70% during a presidential election and has slowly risen during the last three elections. Turnout in the 2016 election was 74% in Saunders County during what Lindgren called a “heated election.” Four years earlier, turnout was 72% and in 2008 71% of registered voters cast their ballots. Lindgren said she anticipates at least 74% or higher turnout this time around.

While there has been an unprecedented number of candidates filing for village board offices, there are a trio of races where not enough, or in two cases, no one, has filed.

Only one candidate, incumbent Martin Chvatal, has filed for the three open seats on the Malmo Village Board. In Memphis, no one has put their name on the ballot for the village board, where there are three openings. Yutan’s East Ward city council race also has no candidates.

Lindgren said in these cases, the village boards or city councils affected will have to address the issue. She said state law allows the current office holders to stay in their positions for up to 45 days in order to help fill the vacancies.

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