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Omaha's city election: What to know about Tuesday's primary

Omaha's city election: What to know about Tuesday's primary

Polling place

Bancroft Elementary School in South Omaha was used as a polling location on Nov. 3, 2020.

The first act of Omaha’s 2021 city election comes to a close Tuesday.

Two candidates for mayor and two candidates in each of seven City Council districts will advance to Omaha’s May 11 general election.

In the mayoral race, incumbent Republican Jean Stothert, seeking a third term, faces challenges from four Democrats: Nonprofit leader Jasmine Harris, commercial real estate broker RJ Neary, Omaha Public Schools board member Kimara Snipes and North High School teacher Mark Gudgel.

Five of the seven City Council district races are competitive and feature at least four candidates. Those races are in South Omaha (District 4), northeast Omaha (District 2), southwest Omaha (District 5), downtown/midtown area (District 3) and the north-central area, including Dundee, Benson and Florence (District 1).

Northwest Omaha’s District 7 race and west-central Omaha’s District 6 contest have one incumbent and one challenger, both of whom will move on to the general election.

Omaha’s city elections are nonpartisan, which means the top two vote-getters in each race will advance to the general election, regardless of party affiliation.

Polling locations are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for those planning to vote in person. You can find information about your polling location by visiting or by calling 402-444-8683.

People who still have a mail-in ballot need to take it to one of 13 drop-box locations or to the Douglas County Election Commission, 12220 West Center Road, before 8 p.m. Tuesday.

It’s too late to put early ballots in the mail because they will not reach election officials in time to be counted.

“Postmarks do not count — they have to be in our possession by 8 p.m. (Tuesday),” said Brian Kruse, Douglas County election commissioner.

Kruse urged people with early ballots to double-check that they have signed the back of the envelope. Ballots with missing signatures will be thrown out.

Tens of thousands of people have already cast their votes. The Election Commission had received about 50,000 mail-in ballots as of Monday morning, which represented about 66% of the 76,600 early ballots that were sent to voters, Kruse said.

He’s expecting about 30% turnout by eligible voters. That would be a high-water mark for an Omaha primary election because historically, turnout in city primaries hovers around 20%.

Kruse partly attributed the expected turnout bump to higher participation in absentee voting. He said a strong slate of candidates and carryover excitement from the 2020 presidential election likely played a role, too.

“We’re looking for a decent turnout,” Kruse said.

Omaha’s 174 polling locations will practice social distancing and offer hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, masks and new pens to each voter, Kruse said.

“We are asking voters — even if you’ve had your vaccine — please, please wear a mask to the polling place (Tuesday), or accept one of ours to protect our fellow poll workers and (fellow) voters,” Kruse said.

Preliminary vote tallies will begin being released at 8 p.m. Check for results.

Omaha mayors, from the beginning to now,

402-444-1127, @reecereports

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Reece covers Omaha City Hall, including the City Council and Mayor's Office, and how decisions by local leaders affect Omaha residents. He's a born-and-raised Nebraskan and UNL graduate. Follow him on Twitter @reecereports. Phone: 402-444-1127​

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