Secretary of State John Gale says he’s disappointed with the voter turnout for the General Election.
Gale says he’s pleased the 47.5% turnout this year beat the 43% turnout in 2010, but still disappointed turnout didn’t reach the 50% mark he had projected.
“I deeply appreciate everybody who did vote, don’t mistake me there, but we’re a state with a strong civic pride, strong patriotic pride, a strong sense of who we are and we really should be seeing a 60-65% turnout in these gubernatorial cycles,” Gale tells Nebraska Radio Network.
About 66 of the state’s 93 counties had a voter turnout of 50% or higher.
McPherson County in west-central Nebraska recorded the highest voter turnout with 72%. Thurston County in northeast Nebraska had the lowest, at 31%.
Presidential years attract more voters. In 2008, 71% of the state’s registered voters cast ballots. That percentage slipped a bit in 2012, when the turnout reached 29%.
State voter turnout fell just short of Gale’s projected 50% despite open races for governor and United States Senator as well as an increase in the state minimum wage on the ballot.
“I don’t know how much you could put on the banquet table to attract people to turn out and vote and yet its 47.4%,” Gale says. “So, I guess I am disappointed. But, I will say this, that the national average turnout was about 36%. That’s the lowest national average turnout since 1942.”
Gale says there will have to be a lot of analysis done before any decisions can be made to increase voter turnout.
About a quarter of the voters in the General Election cast ballots early, an increase in early voting over the last non-presidential election.
Gale says the tradition of going to the polls on Election Day remains strong here.
“In Nebraska, still, people love going to their polling site,” according to Gale. “When you have 23% who are early voters, that’s a nice percentage, but it’s certainly not a majority. In Colorado and in Washington, both had a majority, over 50% of people were voting early before they went statewide.”
About 18% of the votes cast in 2010 were cast early. Early voting increased in 2012, with 28% voting early.