COVID-19 has disrupted almost every aspect of life. But one – the May 12 primary election – is going on as planned.
Officials are taking numerous steps to ensure the safety of everyone involved.
In Sarpy County, polling sites run smoothly with the help of more than 500 poll workers. Poll workers typically meet in person for a 1½-hour training that covers everything from how to fill out paperwork to equipment demonstrations.
This year, with the presence of COVID-19 and limits on groups of more than 10 people, Sarpy County Election Commissioner Michelle Andahl had an idea.
She had previously worked with Torri Pantaleon, video producer for Papio Vision, the City of Papillion’s TV station, on a 2020 Census public service announcement.
Maybe, she thought, he could lend his video expertise again.
“I mentioned that we needed to make a training video for our poll workers and that we wish we had the set up that he does,” Andahl said. “Without hesitation, he offered to help us make our poll worker training video so they could receive training in the comfort of their homes.
“Through this, another great partnership was formed.” Andahl said. “Torri, Papio Vision and the City of Papillion have been incredibly supportive of our unique situation.”
Pantaleon said he was happy to assist and joked that the video isn’t a Universal Pictures movie but a training video that gets the job done. It features PowerPoint slides by Teresa Keyes, the Election Office’s poll worker trainer and manager. Andahl narrates it.
“It’s a great testament to the fact that the county and the city both care and want to get this done,” Pantaleon said. “It shows great cooperation between a municipality and the county.”
While people can vote in person at the polls, Andahl is encouraging people to vote by mail.
“Anyone who wants an early ballot can request one,” she said. “We hope that everyone who can’t go to the polls on Election Day will vote by mail.”
In March, Andahl’s office sent early voting ballot applications to all 114,000 registered voters in Sarpy County. Voters can return the application by mail, fax or email by May 1. The Election Office started mailing out early ballots on April 6.
Anyone with questions should call the Sarpy County Election Commission at 402-593-2167.
“I hope voters take comfort in knowing that they can vote by mail, from their home, and that we are here to serve them,” Andahl said. “Voting is a right to be cherished and exercised, and we hope everyone will exercise that right for the May 12th primary.”
If you would like to vote early or by mail, you can download an Early Voting Ballot application.