CULBERTSON, TRENTON, Nebraska -- Hitchcock County, Nebraska, School District No. 70 patrons will be asked to decide by Tuesday, May 10 whether they want a new elementary building in Culbertson and a new classroom wing in Trenton.
New construction and mechanical, electrical and fire system updates in existing buildings would be financed with $7.4 million in bonds if voters give the board of education the go-ahead to the bonds and a special tax levy on their mail-in ballots.
Hitchcock County clerk Margaret Pollmann said her office will mail ballots to the school district's registered voters in large white envelopes between Monday, April 25, and Friday, April 29, all on the same day; ballots will not be forwarded.
The completed ballots must be returned to the clerk's office in the Trenton courthouse by 5 p.m., Tuesday, May 10.
The legal-size ballot cannot be copied. Pollmann said electronic ballot scanners will not read anything but the official ballot.
If it is mailed, a finished ballot must be inserted in the envelope that accompanies it; voters must affix postage of $1.08. Do not fold the ballot, Pollmann said.
Voters may also return their ballots to the clerk's office in Trenton during regular courthouse hours, 8:30 a.m. until 4 p.m., or after hours, at the sheriff's office, also in the Trenton courthouse. On election day, May 10, the clerk's office will remain open one extra hour to allow voters to meet the 5 p.m. deadline.
The last day to register to vote is Thursday, April 28, at 6 p.m., in the Hitchcock County clerk's office in the courthouse in Trenton for Hitchcock County residents, and in the Red Willow County clerk's office in the courthouse in McCook for Red Willow County residents.
Pollmann said her plan to conduct this special election by mail was approved by Nebraska Secretary of State John Gale. Pollmann said the five-page election plan and timeline explains in detail, among other things, how the ballots will be mailed and received, how the election board will be appointed and the use of the election equipment. "It (the plan) complies with state election criteria and statutes," Pollmann said, and was approved March 24.
Pollmann said she selected the mail-in election as a convenience to voters. She said, too, that the secretary of state generally sees a larger voter turn-out in mail-in elections.
The all-mail election method can be used only to decide special ballot issues, according to a news release from Gale's office on March 3. Special elections involving an office vacancy or a recall of an official must use polling places.
In the same release, Polk County clerk Debbie Girard said that Polk County has had three all-mail elections recently. She said, "You get a better turn-out and a better-educated voter casting a ballot. It gives them a chance to see the question and think about it." Additionally, she said, voters don't have to worry about getting to polling places in poor weather, and county clerks don't have the task of finding and training poll workers.
Gale said, "I think the most important thing about all-mail elections is that a greater number of voters have a say on the issue. Greater participation is certainly better for our democracy."
Gale said that voter turn-out in eight all-mail elections in 2010 across the state was 55.7 percent of registered voters, better than the voter turn-out of 36.3 percent in nine elections using polling places.
Gale said, "The results from 2010 confirm what we have been seeing for several years -- that the all-mail method is generating higher turn-outs. Voters enjoy the convenience."
Pollmann said she has ordered enough ballots for 1,211 school district patrons in Hitchcock County and 32 in Red Willow County; those counts were as of March 21.
* If a ballot is not received, spoiled or destroyed, the voter may request a replacement from county clerks. The deadline to request a replacement ballot to be mailed is Wednesday, May 4, 4 p.m. The deadline for in-person requests for replacement ballots is noon, Tuesday, May 10.
* The deadline for early voter ballot requests to be mailed to an address other than the registered voter's residence is Wednesday, May 4, 4 p.m.
* The deadline for in-person early voting is Monday, May 9, at 4 p.m. in each county clerk's office.
* The deadline for a registered voter's agent to apply for and pick up an early voter ballot is Tuesday, May 10, at 4 p.m., in each county clerk's office.
All ballots must be returned to the Hitchcock County clerk's office by Tuesday, May 10, at 5 p.m., to be counted, Pollmann said.
These deadlines are included in legal notices printed in the McCook Daily Gazette and the Hitchcock County News on Thursday, March 31.
Construction and renovation plans for the school facilities in Culbertson and Trenton involve:
* Demolishing a portion of the existing elementary school in Culbertson, building a new elementary building, and renovations and updates;
* Demolishing a portion of the junior/senior high school building in Trenton, building a new classroom wing, and renovations and updates;
* Preparing and improving the sites of the existing elementary building and junior/senior high buildings; and
* Providing the necessary furniture and apparatus for the school buildings.