County clerk reports that about 40 percent of Proposition 1 ballots have been returned by eve of deadline

About 40 percent of the 63,000 Proposition 1 ballots mailed to the county’s registered voters had been returned by 10 a.m. Monday, according to Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew.

Proposition 1 is the controversial sales tax referendum that would allow expansion of the Douglas County Jail and the building of a mental health campus.

Shew said that the approximately 24,000 ballots returned to the clerk’s office included all ballots returned by mail as of Friday and about 800 ballots dropped off this weekend at drop sites. The total also accounts for nearly 1,300 ballots that the post office indicated would be delivered Monday.

“It’s a tremendous turnout,” he said. “We’ll still get quite a few more ballots.”

Voters who haven’t mailed their ballots should drop them off at the Douglas County Courthouse, 1100 Massachusetts St. or at the two satellite locations of the Douglas County Treasurer’s Office — 2000 W. 31st St., Suite B, and the Dillons store at 3000 W. Sixth St. — to ensure they arrive before the noon Tuesday deadline, Shew said. A drop box just south of the courthouse is available 24 hours a day.

The clerk’s office will provide registered voters with replacement ballots in case ballots have been lost or destroyed, Shew said. The office is also working to ensure that all returned ballots count by getting in touch with voters who did not sign ballots as required.

“We utilize runners to run those ballots all over the county,” he said. “There was a story of one runner who helped a resident plant peppers while getting the signature.”

The clerk’s office won’t be able to use runners Tuesday, so Shew urges all those returning ballots Monday and Tuesday morning to make sure the ballots are signed.

The returned ballots have not been counted, Shew said. The count will start Tuesday afternoon after ballots that were returned in the morning are processed. Shew could not estimate when the count would be finished beyond the early evening.

Because of the interest in Proposition 1, the clerk’s office will release updates once or twice during the count, Shew said.

If voters approve Proposition 1, they would authorize a countywide half-cent sales tax increase. The estimated $9.8 million that the tax would raise annually would fund a $44 million expansion of the county jail, an $11 million behavioral health campus, $5.1 million in additional behavioral health services and $1 million of the $6.1 million needed annually for increased jail operational costs.

— This story has been updated to correct that Monday’s 24,000 ballot total includes the 1,300 ballots at the post office.

Story last updated: May 14, 2018, at 4:12 p.m.


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