Election Day: Live updates
By-the-minute news on the races important to you. Beginning 8 a.m. Tuesday, we'll have updates from the campaign trail and Lincoln-area polling places. Stay with us into the evening for breaking news and results.
Fischer, Kerrey party plans
Bob Kerrey is tentatively scheduled to join Democrats at Single Barrel in Lincoln between 8 and 8:40 p.m. before moving on to his election night party at the Embassy Suites in LaVista.
Deb Fischer will hold her election night party in the Cornhusker ballroom in Lincoln, beginning at 7 p.m.
-- Don Walton
Polling with pop
I ran into Lincoln attorney Carlos Monzon at the U.S. Courthouse over the lunch hour, noticed his "I Voted Today" sticker and asked how the line was. He said it wasn't long when he went to his polling place with his 4-year-old, who he had taken out of school for the experience. He said his dad took him when he was a kid, and he wanted to continue the tradition.
-- Lori Pilger
Eagle Elementary School students got a lesson in voting today. Precinct Inspector Kelly Gillaspie reported steady traffic in the lunchroom, where there were 241 ballots cast by noon and 6 provisional ballots.
“The kids are wonderful,” Gillaspie said. “They’re so well behaved. They don’t run through the election area.”
Nebraska's Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Bob Kerrey, right, and his son Henry, center right, turn in his ballot while voting, Tuesday Nov. 6, 2012 in Omaha. Kerrey, the former governor and two-term senator returned to his home state to run for the Senate. (AP Photo)
150,000 stickers, and other answers about the I Voted Today! stickers
An email conversation with Elinor Lane, communications director of the Realtors Association of Lincoln
1. How long has the Realtors Association of Lincoln supplied the I Voted Today! stickers?
The Realtors Association of Lincoln has been supplying “I Voted Today!” stickers to the Lancaster County Election Commissioner’s Office for over 25 years.
The Realtors Association of Lincoln provides the stickers because Realtors believe it’s critical for Americans to vote. From city hall, to the state house, to the U.S. Capitol, our elected officials are making decisions that have a huge impact on homeowners and their communities. Regardless how Lincolnites vote, Realtors believe in this nonpartisan promotion of civic engagement.
3. How many do you buy at a time? Where do you buy them from?
As of our last order, we supplied the Lancaster County Elections Commissioner’s office with 150,000 stickers. This number usually accounts for 2-3 years, taking into account the election cycle. The number is dependent on previous voter turnout and is determined each time we order. We order the stickers through a local firm, Arjay Advertising.
4. Always the same design?
Yes, in the last 25 years the design has remained pretty much the same.
5. Any advice for the growing numbers of early and absentee voters who feel incomplete because they can’t get a sticker? (Serious question; I’ve talked to several early voters today who were envying my sticker.)
Unfortunately, once we supply the stickers we don’t have much say is how they are distributed. We would recommend that voters check with the Commissioner’s office on providing the stickers early. We do think it would be nice to have them available to early voters, but understand the cost in sending to voters who mail in their ballots. We’re happy to hear the sticker is a part of Lincoln residents’ election day experience!
-- Peter Salter
Counting early/absentee ballots. #NEVoteby LancasterCoElectionC via twitter 11/6/2012 8:47:03 PM
TONIGHT: LIVE ELECTION RESULTS -- For those of you looking for updates on the presidential and U.S. Senate races, we will be posting breaking results here tonight once the polls close. In Nebraska, that's at 8 p.m. Central.
Here's a link: live.journalstar.com (For those of you using mobile devices, go here: scribblelive.mobi)
We will also try to keep you up to date on the smaller local races, though those updates won't be as frequent.
If you want easy-to-read results updated on a regular basis tonight, check our results page here: journalstar.com
If you want the fastest results in Nebraska's state races, go here: electionresults.sos.ne.gov These results are speedy -- they're where we get most of our updates, but they're a bit more difficult to navigate.
While I was filling out my ballot, when I didn't know anything about the candidates for a particular race, I Googled them. The top result was almost always an article from JournalStar.com. Has anyone suggested voters use Google -- while voting -- if they are unsure about a candidate?
Farm policy lost in the campaign rhetoric
Right up to the time when Congress went home for the election, farm groups regularly aligned with either the Republicans or the Democrats were calling for passage of a farm bill.
The job is still undone, but the inattention of Congress on legislation is nothing compared to the inattention of President Obama and challenger Mitt Romney to agricultural issues in the 2012 campaign.
John Hansen, president of the Nebraska Farmers Union, and Steve Nelson, his counterpart with the Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation, are among those shaking their heads in a major farm state.
Hansen said the president could have claimed some credit for the bustling agricultural economy. “In farm country, we never made as much money in the last 60 years as we made in the last four,” he said.
But no matter how much agriculture matters in Nebraska, Nelson said, the number of voters on the front lines of crop and livestock production matters more to a presidential campaign.
“It really comes down to the fact that there are less and less farmers as a percentage of the total population,” he said, “so it’s just not seen as being as important an issue as it should.”
The combative tone of the Senate race between Deb Fischer and Bob Kerrey didn’t leave a lot of room for promoting contrasting farm policies, Hansen said.
“When you load your guns and stand in a circle and commence firing, the finer points of a lot of things get left behind.”
Wednesday will be a time to look ahead, Nelson said. “It will be interesting to see, whatever the outcome of the election, how that plays into whether Congress is able to function better than it has, or whether it continues to struggle to get anything passed.”
-- Art Hovey
Facebook notification to vote
Voting -- there's a Facebook notification for that.
Just in case your friends didn't already fill up your news feed with pictures of their "I Voted Today" sticker, Facebook just sent me a friendly remind to vote via notification.
Is it possible for ANYONE to forget it's Election Day? Did it take a Facebook notification to remind you?
Dedicated to finding a way to vote
William G. Lauer likely won’t be around to see the end of the term of the next president.
Lauer, 51, has ALS. He lives at home with round-the-clock nursing care and has very little ability to move.
That means getting to a polling place to vote was out of the question.
But Lauer, who used to work at the Journal Star as a photojournalist, had a former co-worker mail in his request for an absentee ballot so he could cast his vote.
The friend forgot to put postage on the envelope, so it came back but in the end Lauer got his ballot and, again with the help of friends, was able to fill it out.
He said the process was easy, but it’s also easy to see that not everyone would go to the effort – especially considering that in some elections more than half the electorate doesn’t vote.
"Well, I believe in this country and the way it is organized to operate as a representative republic,” Lauer said. “And it makes no sense to complain about anything if you don’t vote.”
Lauer predicted Obama will win.
“Look what happened with Bush. He got in a second term, and how the hell did that happen?”
Regarding the Nebraska Senate contest between Bob Kerrey and Deb Fischer, Lauer predicted a big Fischer win and said the race has been interesting to watch.
“It’s been interesting to see a Nebraska campaign take on the flavor of what most campaigns are like in the rest of the country. Nebraska are very virginal in their political leaning.”
-- Catharine Huddle
Lincoln East students predict results
CNN student election news played on a big screen at the front of the room Tuesday in Michaela Schleicher’s government and politics class at Lincoln East High School, while she took predictions from her students on how the Electoral College count would break down.
Most students thought it would be a tight presidential race, maybe even a tie. A few raised their hands when she asked if they planned to watch the results come in tonight.
Nearly every student said they’d been following the presidential race, and, apparently, the Nebraska Senate race (whether they wanted to or not).
“It’s hard not to follow the Senate race,” said one student, referring to the barrage of ads from Bob Kerrey and Deb Fischer.
The consensus: Enough already on the advertising, candidates. Apparently, they’ve even found their way onto YouTube. Who knew.
Most watched the presidential debates, and Jenn Nyffeler said it made her see the candidates more as people and not figureheads.
“They just act like us,” she said. “They interrupt people when they’re mad.”
Four of the students are 18, including John Ramsay, whose birthday was Monday.
One of his birthday presents: Visit the polls for the first time.
-- Margaret Reist
We can look up/double check your polling place location before you head out. Fast & easy. Just call us: 402-441-7311 #NEVoteby LancasterCoElectionC via twitter 11/6/2012 9:35:05 PM
Voting by mail
Cherry pie isn’t quite as big a part of the election in Cherry County as it used to be.
The good old days in one of the most remote counties in the United States included voting in garages and machine sheds and pie and socializing afterwards.
Now residents of 17 of Cherry County’s 20 precincts vote by mail, said County Clerk Tom Elliott.
One of the positive effects is an increase in turnout to roughly 70 percent.
“Part of the state law that allows all-mail (voting) requires that a return envelope be included with the ballot that has the return postage on it,” Elliott said. “It makes it pretty convenient for the voter.”
That’s not to say that there’s not a certain longing for the pie era.
“We all kind of enjoyed that social part of it and I think that’s kind of missing now,” said Elliott, a 25-year veteran of the election process in Valentine.
But with four amendments on the ballot, people appreciate the time to read the fine print carefully before they make their choices.
“Most of the comments have been favorable, I must say.”
-- Art Hovey
Where does your ballot go?
So you voted today. (Good work, you civic-minded person, you).
Later tonight your ballot will be taken to the Lancaster County Election Commissioners office near 46th and Vine to be counted, but what happens after?
It goes to the ballot graveyard.
Or more accurately, a storage facility.
Federal law states that all election materials -- ballots, voter registration books, poll books, request for absentee ballots, even the envelopes -- must be stored for 22 months before they can be disposed, says Lancaster County Election Commissioner Dave Shively.
In Lancaster County, odds are you drive past your old ballot on a regular basis.
They're stored in a red brick, six story former power plant, turned County Records Management building on the northwest corner of 9th and K streets.
Shively guesses there will be more than 200 banker boxes full of materials from today's election.
Brian Pillard, records manager for the county, took me inside the facility, where, as you might expect, there are rows and rows of boxes on shelves.
More than 160 boxes from the 2010 general election. About 65 from the May 2011 local election. More than 100 from May's primary.
They are all there, but not in a tidy alphabetical order or anything either. Records from all sorts of county and city offices are stored wherever there is space at the time and found via a barcode management system, Pillard said.
There's multiple floors of files -- 33,000 cubic feet altogether. That's 1,100 files a month. There's even the minutes from the very first Lincoln City Council meeting in 1871.
But after the 22 months are up, your old ballot get recycled, Shively said.
- Jordan Pascale
Brownies and busy polls
I was number 227 to walk into Aldersgate United Methodist Church to cast my vote at 2 p.m. That’s about 50 percent of the precinct’s voters – including 121 who voted absentee.
Barbara Moss, who has been sitting in the chair at the folding table taking my name every Election Day since 1996, greeted me once again. That’s impressive.
Election worker Jerry Kromberg said he thinks it’s been busier today than it was four years ago.
The last time he saw that many voters come through the doors: When Lincoln’s arena was up for a vote. At 2 p.m., though, I walked right in, no line.
And if your civic duty isn’t enough to get you to the polls, those in my precinct at 84th and South streets might be drawn by the treats made by the church ladies. The brownies alone are well worth the trip.
-- Margaret Reist
Obama takes kindergarten vote
One at a time, a dozen kindergartners at Trinity Infant and Child Care Center at 16th and A streets walked up to a polling booth Tuesday after lunch and cast their ballots for president.
They pulled a drape and walked into the private booth, where they found a table, a ballot with the names of the two candidates, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, and a jar beside a photo of each of the candidates. They marked the ballot and pitched it inside one of the jars.
The official results, as of Tuesday afternoon: Obama won the day with 9 votes compared to Romney’s 3.
“We had 100 percent voter turnout,” said Trinity teacher Alicia Aue. “Not many polling places can say that.”
Aue first held mock elections during the 2008 presidential election. Another pre-school class of about a dozen mostly 4-year-olds at Trinity also voted Tuesday, but Aue didn’t know how their votes turned out.
Before the children voted, Aue talked with them about the candidates and their interests -- what kind of food they liked, their pets, where they grew up -- things 5-year-olds care about. They didn’t talk politics, she said.
But Aue understands some of the children no doubt were influenced by their parents.
“It’s important for young people to learn when they are a grownup they have to vote,” she said.
Like their parents (or most of them hopefully), the students got red, white and blue stickers after they voted Tuesday that read: “I Voted Today.”
-- Kevin Abourezk
Reporting on the election
Regional newspapers of various sizes have taken a different approach to their online election-day presentations:
The Crete News led with biographies for four school board candidates.
The Nebraska City News Press quoted election officials in Otoe and Fremont counties reporting record-setting early voting and heavy voter turnout.
In Beatrice, Ardath Pinkerton told Daily Sun news editor Chris Dunker that in her 18 years as a precinct worker, never have so many voters turned out so early. “This is the most people I have ever seen, people were lining up before 8 a.m.,” Pinkerton said.
Record high voting was also taking place in York County, according to the York News Times.
By midafternoon, the Grand Island Independent had posted a live link to the county’s official vote tally, with all counts reading zero.
-- Mark Andersen
Words of wisdom
Vince Powers, chairman-elect of the Nebraska Democratic Party, has been engaging in spirited and sometimes rancorous political debates on Facebook with Republicans – including GOP state chairman Mark Fahleson – in the weeks leading up to the election. Today, however, Powers posted a quote from Thomas Jefferson: "I never consider a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend."
-- Kevin O'Hanlon
Working the Independents
Recent polls showed Democrat Bob Kerrey closing the gap in his race with Republican Deb Fischer for Ben Nelson’s U.S. Senate seat. Whether Kerrey pulls it off remains to be seen. But if he does not, it won’t be for lack of effort. I got two calls on the cell phone today from the Kerrey campaign -- asking me, a registered independent – for my vote.
-- Kevin O'Hanlon
Paid time to vote
Here’s a little-known fact: Each of Nebraska’s nearly 15,000 state employees is allowed to take up to two hours of paid leave to vote.
The provision is written into state statute, as well as into the contract with the largest union representing state employees, the Nebraska Association of Public Employees/AFSCME. Carlos Castillo, state administrative services director, said the state doesn’t track how many employees typically use the paid leave but he guessed that most don’t.
Only employees who don’t have time before or after their regular working hours are allowed to use the paid leave to vote. Here is the text of the provision from the administrative services website:
“All employees shall be given up to 2 hours for the purpose of voting provided the employee does not have sufficient time before or after regular duty hours to vote. The two hours authorized for voting does not apply to those employees who by reasons of their employment must vote by use of an absentee ballot.”
Castillo said frontline supervisors typically decide whether to grant paid leave for voting, though human resources staff sometimes get involved as well.
“Every agency would handle it differently,” he said.
-- Kevin Abourezk
Elections and health care
Few elections have subtitles as big as this one.
The 2012 presidential and congressional election: What’s next for health care reform?
Journalists and experts appear poised to weigh in by Friday.
The University of Nebraska Medical Center will host a media briefing on Thursday.
The USC Annenberg/California Endowment of Health Journalism will also hold a webinar for reporters on Thursday.
The Association of Health Care Journalists will weigh in with a webcast featuring East Coast experts at about the same time.
Modern HealthCare, a leading health industry magazine, says it has lined up experts on both sides of the healthcare reform debate who will comment about how the election results will affect doctors, hospitals, clinics and other health care organizations.
A Monday posting by Health Affairs, a leading health policy journal, said that while the Affordable Care Act was not on the ballot, its fate was very much up for grabs:
“The law will likely survive if President Obama is re-elected and Democrats maintain control of the Senate, but is vulnerable otherwise. Republican leaders have threatened to use the same parliamentary tactics to repeal the law that Democrats used to pass it, including a budget-reconciliation process requiring only 51 votes in the Senate. At least five alternative paths have been identified that Republicans could pursue to halt the law’s implementation through regulatory and budgetary means should full repeal fail.”
-- Mark Andersen
No "I Voted" stickers for some voters
Voters in Dakota County aren't being offered "I voted" stickers on Election Day.
The Sioux City Journal says the northeast Nebraska county has a stash of stickers on hand, but Clerk Ted Piepho says they can't hand them out because they're not bilingual.
Piepho says a federal mandate requires all election items in Nebraska to be offered in English and Spanish. He says the department didn't have the budget to buy new bilingual stickers this year, so it's not offering them to voters on Tuesday.
-- The Associated Press
Accessible polling places
In my precinct at about 54th and South Streets, there’s never a line. And there wasn’t today at noon when I voted, as No. 91. But there was a fairly steady stream of voters -- unusual but encouraging.
I went back at 4 p.m. to see how things were going, and still no line, but busy. The precinct workers said the turnout so far was “very good” for the area. The 187th voter was signing in. More than 100 were listed as voting absentee. With 573 registered voters, that’s about a 50 percent turnout, with four hours left.
Voter No. 188 was a young woman who is quadriplegic who chose to vote on the electronic voting machine required at each precinct since the Help America Vote Act of 2002. It was good to see the machine being put to good use.
-- JoAnne Young
Still seeing cars out there dropping off early/absentee ballots in our drop box. It's the drop box's first presidential election. #NEVoteby LancasterCoElectionC via twitter 11/7/2012 12:15:53 AM
Before I went to bed last night, anticipating the excitement of election day, I listened to the most recent broadcast of “This American Life” from National Public Radio. The show, titled “Red State, Blue State” takes a look at relationships that have been damaged by the current division among voters, and one segment (“Nothing in Moderation”) focuses on the New Hampshire legislature, the tea party and Speaker Bill O'Brien's quick rise to power.
The reporter for the segment, Sarah Koenig, formerly covered the Legislature for the Concord Monitor. She described the Legislature there as one with a lot of discord now, where members formerly were cordial and not polarized.
Since I cover the Nebraska Legislature, it made me grateful that this state has a non-partisan unicameral Legislature and senators continue to be respectful and work together. I hope the new senators who will be elected today have that same appreciation for the state’s unicameral form of state government.
-- JoAnne Young
Looking back 24 years ago to "Waltzing Matilda"
Will Bob Kerrey sing "And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda" should he win the Nebraska Senate seat tonight?
It's been 24 years since Kerrey sang the famous war song after he won his first senate race in 1988.
I was a newborn baby when it happened, so I was curious as to why that moment during his victory speech became so well-known.
Kerrey, of course, is a Vietnam vet who lost half a leg in the war and was awarded the Medal of Honor. Some of the men he served with in the Navy Seals were at his victory speech. That's why he broke out into the impromptu song, to honor them.
The much younger-looking Kerrey brought a very jubilant room into a very somber mood as he sings multiple verses of the song, lasting a whole four minutes.
The room is dead quiet for the whole thing.
The song is about a young Australian boy who lost his leg during a World War I battle, a very parallel circumstance to Kerrey's.
In the lyrics, the song talks about the horrors of war, the death of veterans as they grow older and an apathetic youth that has forgotten their bravery.
He finishes the song saying, "We'll waltz tonight and work tomorrow. Thank you very much."
Will Kerrey sing the song again tonight? We'll know in just a few hours. Polls close at 8 p.m.
Kerrey will be at the Single Barrel across the street from the Journal Star at 8 p.m. and at the LaVista Embassy Suites later tonight.
Coming up on the last hour. If you haven't voted yet, it's time. Call us so we can help you get to the right place - 402-441-7311 #NEVoteby LancasterCoElectionC via twitter 11/7/2012 12:50:05 AM
Supporters of Republican Senate candidate Deb Fischer began filing into the Cornhusker Hotel’s Grand Ballroom just after 7 p.m.
While many grabbed a drink and hors d'oeuvres and mingled around the room, Stephen Akers, 16, watched closely as the presidential election results rolled in on his laptop.
“I’m a political junkie,” he said.
His prediction for the Senate race: Deb Fischer, by at least five points.
Akers first became interested in politics in the seventh grade, and was most recently a volunteer on the Stenberg campaign back in May’s Republican primary election.
“But now I’m Fischer all the way,” he said.
Nebraska Republican Chairman Mark Fahleson told the crowd the event would kick-off at 8 p.m.
“And if you haven’t voted yet, get out of here and go vote,” Fahleson said, laughing.
Representatives Jeff Fortenberry and Adrian Smith and Senator Mike Johanns are also expected to appear at the event.
“We still have volunteers calling from the Republican headquarters here in Lincoln,” Fahleson said. “Enjoy your time this evening and we’re going to celebrate a great victory.”
Dedicated Republican Liberty Caucus volunteer Jasmine Sheetz pledged to stand in front of Eagle Elementary School from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day holding a campaign sign for Bill Kintner.
The Papilion man is challenging incumbent Paul Lambert of Plattsmouth.
Gov. Dave Heineman endorsed Kintner despite having appointed Lambert to the unicameral just a year ago. Heineman soured on Lambert after he voted to override the governor’s vetoes of legislation allowing cities to increase their sales tax by half-cent with voter approval.
Sheetz said she took off work and braved the cold for 12 hours, despite living in a different legislative district, to support a like-minded candidate. But she did admit leaving briefly during the lunch hour to cast her own ballot in Lincoln.
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