More Omaha voters trickled to the polls than expected for Tuesday’s primary election.
Douglas County Election Commissioner Dave Phipps had projected an 18 percent turnout. The preliminary, unofficial turnout number was 22.3 percent. Four years ago, 19.2 percent of registered voters went to the polls.
“I was a little low,’’ Phipps said Wednesday. “The voters did good work for us. I’m always happy to see that.”
Omahans advanced candidates for mayor, City Council and the Omaha Public Schools board to the May 14 general election.
The preliminary turnout total reflects 61,278 votes counted Tuesday. There were 274,321 eligible voters.
The vote total will increase Friday after officials add up to 1,000 early-voting ballots turned in late Monday and Tuesday. A few provisional ballots will be processed by early next week and the final vote total certified April 12.
Phipps said 30 to 40 percent of eligible voters typically vote in the general election. He plans to make an official projection closer to Election Day.
Many voters across the city Tuesday said the mayoral election was their top ballot issue.
The race was dogged by vulgar tweets and a controversial T-shirt that portrayed candidate Jean Stothert on a stripper pole. Several voters said the T-shirt episode reinforced their decisions.
At St. Rose Catholic Church on 13th Street, south of the Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium, Dennis Hollenbeck said the incident helped him choose between Republicans Stothert and Dave Nabity.
“Nobody should have to go through that,” said Hollenbeck, adding that he chose Stothert because he considered her the best chance to unseat Democratic Mayor Jim Suttle.
Stothert and Suttle advanced to the general election.
Midtown voter Mary Ellen O’Connell said the T-shirt degraded women but that it had nothing to do with her vote for Suttle at Luther Memorial Lutheran Church near 61st Street and Western Avenue.
O’Connell said Suttle has done a good job tackling inherited problems and leading the city.
“We had the police and fire union issues way before Jim Suttle took office,” she said.
Phipps said voting generally went smoothly, except in cases where voters didn’t notice changes in school subdistricts and were surprised by their choices in the voting booth.
Margaret Connolly, who votes at New Cassel Retirement Center, 900 N. 90th St., said she prepared to vote in her usual subdistrict but received a ballot for another. She said she received no mailer from the Election Commission about the change.
Phipps said state law doesn’t require sending new voter cards for such boundary changes. Also, his office couldn’t afford the courtesy mailing, he said.
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