Washington State’s primary election mail-in ballots are dropped off at a designated collection box in March. Nebraska’s primary election is May 12, and the last day to request a mail-in ballot is May 1. ANNA HOYCHUK/SHUTTERSTOCK

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Catholics urged to take part in Nebraska primary

Mail-in ballots to help voters stay healthy during pandemic

Nebraska Catholics don’t have to choose between staying safe from the coronavirus and exercising their civic virtue by voting.

Polls will be open for the state’s May 12 primary, according to Nebraska Secretary of State Robert Evnen, but officials are encouraging early voting through mail-in ballots.

The deadline to submit a request for a mail-in ballot is May 1.

“Mail-in ballots are always an option, but people should be thinking about them as a way to stay healthy and fulfill their responsibility,” said Tom Venzor, executive director of the Nebraska Catholic Conference (NCC). “Vulnerable populations, especially, shouldn’t feel obligated to show up at a polling place.”

Early in-person voting has been eliminated, with a few exceptions, including one for people with disabilities. Appointments can be made with local election officials.

Registered voters should have received information on mail-in voting through the mail. The Nebraska Secretary of State Office also provides that information online.

People who still need to register to vote must do so by April 24 to participate in the May 12 primary. That can be done online or by mail.

Venzor said the citizens’ right to vote on ballot measures and for the people who will represent them in local, state and national government is powerful, but it also involves responsibility.

“We have the hard work of informing our consciences,” he said.

Catholics can look to church teaching on specific issues in church documents and from their priests and bishops. Venzor said some of Archbishop George J. Lucas’ podcasts address key topics, and he also recommends “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Responsibility from the United States Bishops.”

The NCC’s voter guide will be available in the May 1 edition of the Catholic Voice and online at nebraskacatholicvoter.com.

People should also question candidates about important issues, Venzor said, “and push for clear answers.”

“A candidate owes that to voters,” he said. “Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions.”

“You’ve got to give your time and attention to becoming informed,” Venzor said. “That’s an intentional task that we undertake.”

It might seem daunting, he said, but the end result – contributing to the common good by casting a vote – “is an empowering, beautiful moment in our political process.”