- Associated Press - Friday, December 8, 2017

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Lincoln and Omaha officials have told a legislative committee that they don’t want to move their city elections to presidential or gubernatorial election years.

Officials discussed the issue at a public hearing Thursday with the Legislature’s Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee, the Lincoln Journal Star reported .

The two cities incur higher costs and see lower voter turnout by holding local elections separate from statewide elections, said Sen. John Murante of Gretna, who is chairman of the committee.

But combining the elections would make them more expensive for city candidates and create ballot drop-off, which is where fewer voters participate as they move down the list of candidates to consider, said Rick Hoppe, chief of staff to Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler.

“Ballot drop-off is a very real phenomenon,” Hoppe said.

The issue is about keeping local control, said Ben Gray, president of the Omaha City Council. Omaha would rather pay the higher costs than lose voters because of ballot drop-off, he said.

Officials did agree on the need for the state to modernize its election technology, which could cost millions of dollars.

“We are no more than five years away from widespread failure of technology,” Murante said. Ensuring that the election equipment is secure is another priority, he added.

Updating the state’s election technology could cost $25 to $50 million, according to Sen. Justin Wayne, of Omaha.

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, http://www.journalstar.com


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