Douglas County Election Commissioner Brian Kruse assured that this year’s elections will be safe during his pre-Election Day report at Tuesday’s Board of Commissioners meeting.
In response to conspiracy theories that the 2020 election was stolen, Kruse said the county did not detect any fraud in the 2020 election cycle.
“I don’t ever like to use absolutes, but we’re confident that it’s minimal at best,” Kruse said. “We have lots of checks and balances in place.”
Board Chair Mary Ann Borgeson pushed back against conspiracy theories, saying that there are many people working to protect Douglas County’s elections.
“This whole politics by fear, by conspiracy, by whatever you want to call it, has got to stop,” Borgeson said. “Every day I hope that we can get back to being the kind of country that we were before all this nonsense.”
Commissioner Maureen Boyle said some other states have floated doing vote counting entirely by hand. Kruse said any mistakes they’ve had in the past have all been human-error, and the machines work as they’re supposed to.
Kruse said 36% voted early in the last pre-pandemic election in the 2018 midterms. In this May’s primaries it was about 63%, and Kruse said he expects about 50% of voters to vote early this November. Early in-person voting is open until Monday, Nov. 7 at the commission office at 12220 West Center Road.
Kruse said voters can find a sample ballot and their precinct information on the election commission’s website. Friday, Oct. 28, is the deadline to register to vote or to request a mail-in ballot.
Voters can call the election commission office at 444-VOTE for information.
The Omaha City Council unanimously approved an agreement to allow Google Fiber to install infrastructure in the city’s right-of-way Tuesday, Oct. 25. Google Fiber will offer broadband services to the Omaha metro.
Representatives from Cox Communications argued the agreement was unfair for competitors during last week’s public hearing. Cox pays a 5% franchise fee to exclusively provide cable television to the city.
Deputy City Attorney Bernard in den Bosch reaffirmed his position Tuesday that state statute prevents the city from charging the 2% fee Google Fiber agreed to. He said that although he doesn’t believe it was the bill’s intention, the Small Wireless Facilities Deployment Act prevents the city from collecting a tax, fee or rate on internet providers.
“I am not aware of anything new or anything that changes my view,” in den Bosch said. “Quite frankly I would like to be able to advise you that I think you could charge a fee.”
If state law were to change, the approved agreement would allow the 2% fee, in den Bosch said. Councilmember Brinker Harding said he’s spoken with the Unicameral’s legislative committee about taking up the issue in the next session.
Andy Simpson from Google Fiber said installation would likely begin in multiple points near the I-680 corridor, but the plan is not set in stone. Eventually, they hope to serve the entire city.
“It’s in our business interest to cover as many homes [as possible] and cover, especially, those more dense areas,” Simpson said.
Costco is set to plan a third location in Omaha after unanimous approval from the City Council. The project’s final plat and necessary rezoning ordinances will be voted on at a later meeting.
The 36-acre lot at 180th Street and West Maple Road is currently zoned for agricultural use. The mixed-use development will be divided into seven lots, which will include the Costco store, gas station, and other commercial uses.
Neighbors have expressed concerns with traffic safety at previous meetings, namely access to the site via Emmet Street, which connects the residential area to the south. At Tuesday’s meeting, opponent Paul Elofson said the increased traffic would threaten his grandchildren and children who walk along Emmet Street to school.
“I don’t believe that the city has done anything to try and minimize the risk of — forgive me — the death of a child with that particular intersection,” Elofson said.
Larry Jobeun, representing the project, said the access point at Emmet Street will mostly be used by neighbors and will increase connectivity in the area. Customers from outside the neighborhood — as well as Costco’s trucks — would likely enter and exit through the north side of the site.