Douglas County Election Commissioner Dave Phipps still has a lot of work to do to satisfy north Omaha leaders.
He plans to solicit feedback about voting in the primary and draw new precinct maps before the November general election.
Phipps said that he heard a normal amount of voter complaints compared with past elections and that people often are confused when polling places change.
Black leaders in north Omaha had a different reaction.
“This was a disaster,” City Councilman Ben Gray said of Tuesday's primary election.
Gray and others on Thursday called for Phipps' countywide consolidation of polling places to be rolled back in northeast Omaha. They said some voters decided not to vote because of the confusion about polling places.
Phipps announced in March the closing of nearly half the polling places in the county, which he said would save about $115,000 in most elections.
The plan provoked protests from several people, who said it would prevent the poor and elderly from voting.
Gov. Dave Heineman, who appointed Phipps in 2005, said last month that some polling places would reopen before the general election. Phipps said he hopes to have a new precinct map ready by July.
The group of north Omaha leaders said they plan to keep working for easier access to voting, citing the 1960s-era struggle for civil and voting rights.
“We're expecting change, and we're demanding change,” said the Rev. Cedric Perkins of Pilgrim Baptist Church.
They also asked for additional training of poll workers after hearing about voters who had been asked to show identification, which is not required under Nebraska law.
Many complaints centered on the Omaha Housing Authority's Benson Tower, where residents had been accustomed to voting in the lobby.
For Tuesday's primary, those residents' polling place was moved to St. Paul United Methodist Church. But Phipps used Benson Tower for another precinct's voters.
The Douglas County Democratic Party provided two buses to take Benson Tower voters to the new polling place.
Phipps said his office will look into any problems reported, including those at Benson Tower.
In response to complaints, he pointed out that cards were mailed to every voter specifying changes in polling places and giving voters the option of casting early ballots.
The U.S. Department of Justice had four people monitoring the voting on Tuesday, but it's unclear what, if any, changes they will recommend.
Phipps also has put together a committee to advise him on any changes for November's voting.
But he said his office won't hold any public forums on the subject, which is one of the things State Sen. Brenda Council of Omaha and others had requested.
“It's kind of hard to get all that organized, especially with the time frame we're under,” Phipps said.
Council believes there were serious problems with the primary.
“It's so disconcerting that (Phipps) doesn't appear to recognize it,” Council said.
She said Phipps should focus on making it easier for people to vote rather than saving money.
Phipps had to redraw precinct lines because of new population figures from the 2010 Census.
He and other election commissioners took advantage of a new state law that allowed larger precincts, but the Douglas County polling changes were greater than those in other counties.
Nebraska's two other large counties — Sarpy and Lancaster — saw some confusion as well.
All three of those counties' election commissioners said some people don't read the voter information cards they receive in the mail.
“Unfortunately, you can't force a person to read something,” said Wayne Bena, the Sarpy County commissioner.
Bena said he posted a sign at all closed polling places, directing voters to call the commission to find their new site.
He also trained workers to be “extra sensitive” to problems caused by the changes, and he stationed more people than usual by the phones to answer questions.
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