A state elections watchdog group filed a complaint Tuesday against the embattled Douglas County Election Commissioner’s office, alleging it violated election laws by requiring some voters in Omaha to provide voter identification numbers before issuing them provisional ballots on Election Day. Voter ID numbers are used by election offices and typically aren’t readily known by voters. The only way for the Omaha voters to get their number on Nov. 6 was to call the county elections office, said Adam Morfeld, director of Nebraskans for Civic Reform.
“It was almost impossible for them to get through to the Douglas County Election Commissioner’s office on Election Day,” said Morfeld, whose group filed the complaint with the state Secretary of State’s office and asked for a public hearing.
Several of the group’s election observers reported that they witnessed election officials in several north Omaha precincts on Nov. 6 requiring voter ID numbers from people who weren’t listed on polling place rolls who wanted provisional ballots.
Such ballots aren’t counted until the voter’s registration can be verified. Federal and state law require only that a voter claims he or she is at the correct precinct and registered to vote to receive a provisional ballot.
“We believe hundreds, and potentially thousands of voters were unlawfully denied the right to vote on Election Day because election officials in at least nine precincts that we observed required voters provide their voter identification number in order to cast a provisional ballot,” Morfeld said.
Morfeld said he saw at least seven people denied provisional ballots at the north Omaha polling place he manned. Upon questioning the precinct inspector, Morfeld said, he was told a district supervisor had instructed poll workers not to issue provisional ballots unless the voter provided his or her voter ID number.
Affidavits filed by other observers at other polling places estimated that up to two dozen voters were turned away.