Nearly 26% of the registered voters in Nebraska cast ballots early in the General Election this year.
Secretary of State John Gale says that’s up 3% from the 2008 election.
“The 26% is certainly an indication that Nebraskans like this convenience. They like having options to vote, whether they’re voting in person or voting by mail or voting on Election Day,” Gale tells Nebraska Radio Network.
Still, a majority enjoy the tradition of voting on Election Day.
The vote in the November 6th General Election in Nebraska totaled 804,245. The Nebraska State Board of Canvassers has met to certify the results of the election with the exception of three races currently undergoing a recount.
Turnout fell just shy of Secretary Gale’s projection of 71%, with slightly more than 69% of the state’s registered voters casting ballots in November. Nebraska has 1,163,817 registered voters. Gale points out that if everyone eligible to vote in Nebraska is counted, the percentage of who participated on Election Day drops to between 56-and-58%.
Douglas County has the most registered voters, more than 300,000. Lancaster County ranks second in registered voters with Sarpy County third.
Gale says what his office has heard from election officials and voters cast doubt on whether early voting increases voter turnout.
“It seems, at least anecdotally, that many people who vote early are experienced voters, frequent voters who are attuned to the opportunity to request an early ballot,” Gale says.
Gale does hold out hope that the convenience of early voting will increase voter participation in the future.
“I’m hoping that we’re going to see that this will contribute to an increased percentage of voters,” Gale says. “We need to give them all options we can for their convenience and since this is a convenience they seem to enjoy, I’m hoping it does contribute to increased voting turnout.”
Gale says increased participation strengthens democracy.
“There’s still a gap there of a number of people who are turned off, indifferent, unconcerned about their civic responsibilities. So, it’s critically important that we capture as many citizens as we can in every election.”
AUDIO: Brent Martin interviews Secretary of State John Gale on early voting. [7 min.]