Lexington poll workers see decreased turnout after record vote-by-mail requests

LEXINGTON — For the most part it was a quiet at the polling stations in Lexington on Tuesday, and for volunteers and National Guard members, that’s what they preferred.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a record number of people requested their ballots by mail.

Dawson County Clerk Karla Zlatkovsky said 4,011 voters requested their ballots like mail. In past years only around 500 people have utilized this service.

At the polling station at Grace Lutheran Church, first time poll volunteers Nick VanCura, Jerri Govier and Jack Govier said they had only a small number of people vote in person.

When asked why they volunteered during a pandemic, Jack Govier said the county was having trouble finding volunteers and they wanted to help.

The volunteers around Lexington were assisted by members of the Nebraska National Guard, who were on site to help the volunteers in disinfecting measures.

At Grace Lutheran Guard member Robert West said he was on hand to help the volunteers with whatever they needed.

Those who did vote in person went through an altered process to help maintain social distancing. Voting booths were spread six feet apart. If a voter did not have a mask, they were provided one by the volunteers. The area where they voted was also disinfected after each use, Govier said.

The volunteers themselves were also provided with masks and gloves. “The state has taken care of us,” Govier said.

Over at St. Ann’s Parish Center, another polling location had help from National Guard members.

Pam Ackerman said Guard members helped to set up the station in the morning and were on hand to help keep things healthy. Ackerman added the Guard was brought in due to the shortage of volunteers.

When asked why she volunteered during this pandemic, Ackerman said she felt if she was healthy then she would help out.

“It’s important to keep the polls open, for the people who want to vote this way,” she said, but added she appreciated all the people who chose to vote by mail.

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