Secretary of State John Gale predicts that 71% of us will vote this election.
Or, at least, that 71% of us who are registered to vote will cast a ballot in this election.
Gale made his voter turnout prediction after talking with a number of local election officials throughout Nebraska.
“Obviously, different counties differ in their own projections, but statewide we’re looking at 71% as a very solid, realistic number,” Gale tells Nebraska Radio Network.
Some have already voted and that plays in as a factor in Gale’s voter turnout prediction.
“After having surveyed a number of counties in Nebraska over the past several weeks we found that there was indeed a steady increase in new voter registration as well as a record surge of early voting, both in-person and by mail-in ballot,” according to Gale.
If Gale’s prediction is accurate, the turnout could set a record.
In 2004, 68% of Nebraska’s registered voters cast ballots. In 2008, just over 71% turned out, a record.
More and more Nebraskans are taking advantage of early voting. In Omaha, both Douglas and Sarpy Counties report a sharp upswing in early voting. Douglas expects 85,000 early ballots to be cast, up from 60,000 in 2008. Lancaster County, which includes Lincoln, also reports a big increase in early voting.
“The significance is, for me, the incredible interest and eagerness to be involved and to cast the ballot by people,” Gale says. “People, obviously, learned what they needed to know. They’re ready to make a choice of their candidates and they were excited to go do it. So, that’s a good sign.”
Gale says the presidential elections always bring out the highest percentage of voters.
Nebraska voters face a crowded ballot this year. The presidential race is at the top of the ballot, but a heated race to replace United States Sen. Ben Nelson is right below it. Both Republican Deb Fischer and Democrat Bob Kerrey are traveling the state, making their final case to the voters. The race in the 2nd Congressional District has generated a lot of interest with Douglas County Treasurer Democrat John Ewing mounting a serious challenge to incumbent Republican Lee Terry.
There are also four constitutional amendments on the ballot.
Click here for the Secretary of State’s election 2012 website.