Nebraska election official calls state’s elections a ‘model for the country’ at U.S. Senate hearing

Nov. 1, 2023, 4 p.m. ·

Hand holds a voting ballot and enters it to a machine to scan.
Nebraska Deputy Secretary of State for Elections Wayne Bena testified on the state’s election integrity in front of the U.S. Senate Committee on Rules and Administration Wednesday.

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Election integrity experts, including Nebraska’s Deputy Secretary of State for Elections, Wayne Bena, testified at a U.S. Senate hearing about threats to election administration Wednesday.

Senate Committee on Rules and Administration Ranking Member Deb Fischer of Nebraska said she hoped to find solutions to problems facing election officials and volunteer poll workers.

“In recent years, election officials have faced both cybersecurity threats and physical threats,” she said. “They have struggled to retain experienced poll workers and to recruit and train new poll workers.”

Other testifiers provided examples of poll worker threats and intimidation, including one election administrator whose dogs were poisoned.

But Deputy Secretary Bena said those issues have not occurred in Nebraska.

Bena called Nebraska elections a model for the country and praised the state’s efforts to increase the number of poll workers in 2020.

“To those that still want to question the integrity of our election process, we recommend to them, become a poll worker,” he said. “Immerse yourself into the process and see just how dedicated our election officials are to the integrity and safety of our elections.”

Bena said his office hand-counted more than 48,000 ballots after the May 2022 election as part of an expanded election audit and only found 11 discrepancies.

The deputy secretary also said Nebraska has not had major challenges recruiting poll workers, as is the case in other states, due in part to the Step Up campaign in the 2020 election, which encouraged more young people to volunteer.

“We have a great bench of people wanting to be poll workers,” Bena said. “For our election officials that have left and retired, a great number of them come back to consult their replacement.”

Bena said his office is working with federal agencies to monitor cybersecurity threats in future elections.