Snowstorm shuts down schools in Nebraska ahead of election day

A major snowstorm is expected to hit Nebraska on Monday, January 8, 2024, forcing many schools to cancel classes and move polling places for the general election. The National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning for most of the state, predicting up to 18 inches of snow and wind gusts up to 60 mph.

The storm could pose a serious threat to voters and poll workers, as well as disrupt the power grid and transportation systems. Some counties have already announced changes to their voting locations and hours, while others are urging residents to vote early or by mail. The Nebraska Secretary of State’s office said it is working with local election officials to ensure a safe and fair election.

Snowstorm shuts down schools in Nebraska ahead of election day
Snowstorm shuts down schools in Nebraska ahead of election day

Many school districts decided to close their buildings on Monday, citing the safety of students and staff. Some schools also serve as polling places, which means they will have to relocate or accommodate voters amid the snowstorm. School officials said they are communicating with election authorities and the public about any changes or updates.

Schools face challenges and criticism over election day decisions

The decision to cancel classes or move polling places was not easy for some school districts, as they faced pressure and criticism from different sides. Some parents and community members expressed concern about the potential for violence or intimidation at the polls, especially after the heated and divisive presidential campaign. They also worried about exposing their children to the coronavirus or other illnesses.

Others argued that closing schools or changing polling places would disenfranchise voters or create confusion. They said that schools should remain open and accessible for the election, as they are public institutions and civic spaces. They also pointed out that some voters rely on schools for transportation, childcare, or other services.

School officials said they tried to balance the needs and interests of all stakeholders, while prioritizing the health and safety of everyone involved. They said they followed the guidance of the state and local authorities, as well as the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They also said they consulted with parents, teachers, and election officials before making their decisions.

Snowstorm adds to the uncertainty and anxiety of the election

The snowstorm is the latest challenge for Nebraska voters and candidates, who have already faced a tumultuous and unprecedented election season. The coronavirus pandemic, the economic crisis, the social unrest, and the polarized political climate have all contributed to the uncertainty and anxiety of the election.

The snowstorm could affect the turnout and the results of the election, as well as the speed and accuracy of the vote counting. Some experts said that the storm could discourage or prevent some voters from casting their ballots, especially those who are elderly, disabled, or living in rural areas. Others said that the storm could motivate or mobilize some voters, especially those who are passionate, determined, or dissatisfied.

The snowstorm could also delay the reporting of the election results, as some counties may have to extend their voting hours or wait for the roads to clear before transporting their ballots. The state law requires that all ballots be counted by the following Friday, January 12, 2024. The state also allows for provisional ballots, which are issued to voters who have registration or identification issues at the polls. These ballots are verified and counted after the election day, adding to the time and complexity of the process.

The snowstorm could also affect the outcome of some close or competitive races, especially at the local level. Nebraska has several races for the U.S. House of Representatives, the state legislature, the state board of education, and the public power district. The state also has several ballot measures, including one that would legalize casino gambling at racetracks.

How to vote and stay safe during the snowstorm

Despite the snowstorm, Nebraska voters still have several options and opportunities to vote and make their voices heard. The state offers early voting, absentee voting, and election day voting, as well as online voter registration and verification. The state also provides information and assistance to voters through its website, hotline, and mobile app.

Here are some tips and resources for voters who want to vote and stay safe during the snowstorm:

  • Check your voter registration status and polling place at votercheck.necvr.ne.gov or call 888-727-0007.
  • Request an absentee ballot by mail or in person at your county election office by Friday, January 5, 2024. You can find your county election office at sos.nebraska.gov/elections/election-officials-contact-information.
  • Return your absentee ballot by mail or in person at your county election office or a drop box by 8 p.m. on Monday, January 8, 2024. You can find the drop box locations at sos.nebraska.gov/elections/early-voting-2024-general-election.
  • Vote early in person at your county election office until Monday, January 8, 2024. You can find the early voting hours and locations at sos.nebraska.gov/elections/early-voting-2024-general-election.
  • Vote on election day at your polling place from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday, January 8, 2024. You can find your polling place at votercheck.necvr.ne.gov or call 888-727-0007.
  • Bring a valid photo ID or a utility bill, bank statement, or paycheck with your name and address to the polls. You can find the list of acceptable IDs at sos.nebraska.gov/elections/voter-id-requirements.
  • Wear a mask, practice social distancing, and follow the health and safety protocols at the polls. You can find the CDC guidelines for voters at [cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/election-polling-locations.html].
  • Be prepared for the weather, traffic, and possible delays at the polls. You can find the weather forecast and road conditions at [511.nebraska.gov] or call 511.
  • Be respectful, courteous, and patient with the poll workers and other voters. You can find the rules and rights for voters at [sos.nebraska.gov/elections/election-laws].

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