Registering to vote in Nebraska is a simple process. Registration applications can be obtained from a county election office and from the Secretary of State’s website. Registration is also available online if you have a valid Nebraska driver’s license or Nebraska state ID. You can register quickly and easily through the Secretary of State’s Online Voter Registration System, or by clicking the image below:
Pursuant to the National Voter Registration Act passed in 1993, almost all states are required to provide registration opportunities when applying or renewing a driver’s license or applying for public assistance services. The act required all states to allow registration by mail and accept a national voter registration form. The national form is developed and provided by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, and can be found in numerous languages on their website linked here. Whether using the Nebraska voter registration application or the national form, the completed form will need to be submitted by mail or in-person to your local county election office.
When applying at a Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles office, the examiner will ask if you wish to register to vote. If the response is yes, a registration form is generated with your name, address and birth date preprinted on the form, or it may be an additional section to complete on the driver’s license application form. The applicant will need to designate a party affiliation (or nonpartisan). The application information will then be electronically transmitted to your local county election office. At public assistance offices, if the voter indicates they wish to register, they are provided with a registration application and may either leave it with the office personnel or take it with them and deliver it to a county election office at a later time. For public assistance offices accepting online or phone applications, an explanation of how to access the web version of the voter registration application is provided, or voters can have a voter registration application mailed to them upon request.
One might also encounter people out in public encouraging voter registration. Sometimes they are at a table or booth, or on the sidewalk or going door to door. This could occur as described in the following situations:
The first might be the County Election Official or a member of his/her staff conducting voter registration at a school, library or other public venue.
The second involves deputy registrars. There are certain rules in Nebraska law regarding deputy registrars, such as the registration must be conducted in teams of at least two people of different political parties. They are required to be trained by county election offices in the proper method to complete the form and will deliver the completed applications to the local office within 24 hours.
Alternatively, interested individuals might simply pass out voter registration applications. This method is not regulated, and the person distributing the forms should not provide advice on completing the application. It is the applicant’s choice whether to take the application with them, mail it themselves or give it to the person distributing the applications. Another note of caution: If an applicant gives the completed application to the distributor to deliver to the county office, the applicant runs the risk of the distributor not delivering the application in a timely manner. A group using this method in 2008 failed to deliver a handful of completed applications by the registration deadline.
The information required in Nebraska is very basic. In addition to name, address, birth date and party affiliation, the applicant’s driver’s license number and/or last four digits of their Social Security number is required. However, if you do not have a driver’s license number or social security number, you may still register by mail or in-person at your county election office. There are also two basic questions at the top of the form as required by the Help America Vote Act: Asking if the applicant is a United States citizen, and if the applicant is of age to register. Citizens who will turn 18 on or before the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November (general election date) are eligible to register to vote as of January 1 of that year. Other optional information asked for on the application includes email address and phone number (which provides quicker communication than mail) and previous registration address or previous name. At the bottom of the application is an oath that the applicant signs, under penalty of election falsification (a Class IV felony), that the information the applicant provided is true and correct.
Citizens who have been convicted of a felony temporarily lose citizenship rights, including the right to vote. However, voting rights in Nebraska are restored two full years after completing all the terms of the sentence for the felony, including any parole or probation term. Citizens who have had their voting rights restored will need to register to vote again. Click here for more information on felon voting rights.
Once an application is received by the local election office, the registrant should receive an acknowledgement notice within seven to 10 days. (For applications received immediately prior to registration deadlines, the acknowledgement shall be mailed at least five days prior to the next election.) This notice will tell the voter if his/her application is incomplete and what information is necessary to complete the application; or if complete, that the voter is registered providing information on polling location and the offices that the voter is eligible to vote on.
Once registered, it is very easy to check your voter registration by going to the Secretary of State’s Voter Information Center. Enter your first and last name, your county, and click submit. This will display your polling place name and address as well as offices/districts assigned to your address. For those without Internet access, the information can be obtained by calling the local election office or the Secretary of State’s Office at (402) 471-2555 or (888) 727-0007 (toll free).
Nebraska List Maintenance Background
In 2005, as required by and using Help America Vote Act funds, a centralized state voter registration database was created. This database connects all 93 counties and allows efficient compliance with the list maintenance provisions found in the National Voter Registration Act. Some of the features of this database include allowing checks of a driver’s license number and the last four digits of a Social Security number through the Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles, comparisons with the state Office of Vital Records for death records on a weekly basis and monthly comparisons with the state’s criminal justice database for felons.
The database also allows a Nebraska county to pull the record from a different county when a voter moves and reregisters in a new county. While virtually eliminating duplicates, it also makes it possible for a voter’s voting history to move with them. In addition, the Secretary of State’s Office compares the database with the U.S. Postal Service’s National Change of Address service approximately every six months. From this comparison, we receive matches with registered voters in Nebraska. This information is used to generate a postage-paid confirmation card that asks the voter if the information is correct, incorrect or if the voter has moved out of the county. Confirmation cards are used in situations where election officials have received information from a third-party source rather than directly from the voter. If updated information is received directly from the voter, the voter’s record is revised immediately. Local officials will often use other information for list maintenance, such as local obituaries (for deaths) or local utility records (for address changes).
Registered voters not responding to the confirmation card are placed in National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) status. They are still a registered voter, but they may be required to use a provisional ballot when voting if they have moved to a new address. In addition, they will need to complete a new voter registration form to update their address information, and checks are conducted to make sure the voter has not voted in more than one location prior to the vote being counted. The provisional ballot process will take additional time for the voter at the polling site, so it is recommended that voters review and update their information prior to Election Day.
The Secretary of State’s Office takes great care to protect the voter registration database. The specifications for this database were developed between the Secretary of State’s Office and Election Systems & Software (ES&S). ES&S, an Omaha, Nebraska-based company, is the largest vote tabulation company in the United States. In addition to the active database, there are daily and weekly backups of the database, and there is a separate disaster recovery site. The Secretary of State’s Office periodically contracts with outside computer security experts to assess or audit the security surrounding the database.
Since 2017, election infrastructure has been designated as critical infrastructure by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The Secretary of State’s Office has since worked closely with DHS to secure the voter registration database from cyberattack. The two groups have participated in tabletop training exercises together. DHS provided important training at the most recent county election official training workshop, and two Secretary of State employees have acquired a security clearance for classified briefings about election infrastructure. Additionally, the Secretary of State’s Office worked closely with DHS to secure additional resources to protect the database.