High tech is driving voter registration in Nebraska to new heights.
Secretary of State John Gale says registrations are up, in part because of an increase in online registrations.
“And that’s really exciting for us,” Gale tells Nebraska Radio Network. “This is something that we beat the drum every election cycle to get people registered. If they get registered, they’re much more likely and much more interested in voting. We’re not quite satisfied with the turnout, yet, but it’s getting better in general elections.”
The Secretary of State’s office began online voter registration last year. The Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles began accepting voter registration last year as well, offering those renewing their vehicle registration an opportunity to register to vote.
This past weekend, Facebook began a push to get its users to register, providing a reminder to those 18 and older that if they want to vote, they need to register. The Secretary of State’s office says the Facebook reminder caused registrations to spike over the weekend. Voter registrations to NEReg2Vote jumped by 1,707% on September 23rd as compared with the previous day. Saturday and Sunday showed higher than average registrations as well. There was no corresponding spike at the DMV.
Officials at the Secretary of State’s office report that on the 23rd, 6,830 voter registrations were received through NEReg2Vote; 2,046 on Saturday and 938 on Sunday, both new and updated registrations.
County election officials will process the registration information received.
September is Voter Registration Month in Nebraska.
Voter registration in Nebraska is at a record high of 1,178,000, up 15,000 from 2012. Gale projects registrations might hit 1,185,000 this year. He wants to see turnout hit closer to 75%. Voter turnout in 2004 was 68%. It hit 70% in 2008 and 69% in 2012.
In addition, the Secretary of State’s office reports the first general election ballots have been sent, heading to Nebraska voters overseas. Early voting begins in less than a week.
Ballots are mailed to military members and overseas voters 45 days prior to the election. Ballots to in-state voters who requested early ballots will be mailed beginning October 3rd. In-person early voting begins October 10th, though some county offices will be closed in observance of Columbus Day.
The Secretary of State’s office reminds Nebraskans about the following deadlines:
· If you are registered, you have until October 28 to ask that an early voting ballot be mailed to you.
· Mailed ballots must be returned to the county election office by the close of polls on Election Day, November 8.
· November 7 is the last day for in-person, early voting at county election offices.
Gale says he hopes Nebraskans review their ballots and find the motivation to vote.
“Whatever it is that energizes a person’s interest, sometimes it’s the pocketbook, sometimes it’s an impact on the community, sometimes it’s an emotional issue, maybe a religious issue, but whatever motivates them on one issue hopefully brings them to the ballot on all of the issues,” Gale says.
Applications to receive an early ballot by mail are available through the Secretary of State’s website: http://www.sos.ne.gov/dyindex.html. Look under “Elections” for the section labeled “Voter Forms.” Applications are available in English and Spanish. They should be mailed to the proper county election office for processing.
Also on the front page of the Secretary of State’s website, voters can see sample ballots in both English and Spanish.