LINCOLN, NE – Nebraska State Senator Heath Mello (District 5, South Omaha) issued the following statement in response to the announcement that some of the polling places in Douglas County that had been scheduled to close would be reopened in time for the 2012 General Election:
“While this is welcome news to the voters whose access to the ballot box was threatened by the polling place closures, it doesn’t change the fact that the Douglas County Election Commissioner has the authority to arbitrarily close polling places without any accountability to the affected voters. This ongoing saga only reenforces the need to examine election officials’ authority to redraw precinct lines, as well as the method by which election commissioners are appointed in Douglas County.”
Under current Nebraska statute, election commissioners are appointed by the Governor in the three largest counties in the state (Douglas, Lancaster, & Sarpy counties). By contrast, election duties in Nebraska’s other 90 counties are either administered by the elected county clerk or by an election commissioner appointed by the county board.
Mello also drew attention to the fact that requests from both Douglas County state senators and Nebraskans for Civic Reform for an investigation into the polling place closures by Secretary of State John Gale had been denied, and expressed hope that a request by U.S. Senator Ben Nelson for an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice would be granted.
“Re-opening some polling places without examining the underlying problem is simply not acceptable.” said Mello. “Voters deserve to know why certain polling places were closed and others were not, and why those closures were predominantly in low-income neighborhoods in North and South Omaha.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 23, 2012
For More Information:
Senator Heath Mello, (402) 471-2710