The 2022 general election: safe, secure, certified

Here's a look at a few key metrics into how the electorate performed this past fall.

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Last week, the Nebraska Board of State Canvassers certified the 2022 general election. The report is available here if you’re interested in digging into it more deeply. In summation – and as we noted on Nov. 8 – the election was a smooth one overall, with nearly 700,000 ballots safely and securely cast.
There were a handful of issues at precincts around the state, which were quickly corrected. Once again, we thank our dedicated election workers for piloting yet another pandemic Election Day on behalf of the state’s voters – you all are heroes of democracy.
With the 2022 election deemed official, we took a peek at several key metrics to see how the state’s electorate performed this past fall compared with past midterm elections.
In no particular order, here they are:
›› The 682,714 ballots cast in the general election ranked second-most for a midterm election in Nebraska. We fell just short of 2018’s high-water mark of 706,652. This year’s voter participation represented 55 percent of our state’s 1.2 million registered voters.
›› With pandemic concerns waning in many parts of the state, more Nebraskans chose day-of, in-person voting than in 2020. Still, roughly 40 percent of voters cast their ballots early, which is well above pre-pandemic levels and represents a record for a midterm election (264,478). This indicates that Nebraskans liked their vote-by-mail and early voting experiences during the height of the pandemic and many are continuing to bank their votes before Election Day. We agree – it’s a great way to vote.
›› Eleven of our state’s 93 counties are all-vote-by-mail. These counties – Boone, Cedar, Cherry, Clay, Knox, Morrill, Dixon, Dawes, Garden, Merrick, and Stanton – send mail-in ballots to all registered voters every election. The “All-Mail 11” have consistently outpaced the Nebraska average in terms of turnout, and that didn’t change in 2022 (69 percent vs. 55 percent). In total, those counties tallied 38,525 ballots this year.
›› Of Nebraska’s 82 remaining counties, two – Douglas and Gage – had more early voters than day-of in-person voters. That’s interesting: Fifty-two percent of Gage County voters and 51 percent of Douglas County voters cooled their heels on Election Day, having already done their civic duties before Nov. 8. The next-highest early vote county was Lancaster, with 41 percent (48,305 of 115,977 total votes cast).
›› Three cheers for Arthur County for having the highest participation rate in 2022 (76 percent). And a concerned glance at Thurston County (32 percent), which was No. 93.
›› The “Big Three” (Lancaster, Douglas, and Sarpy counties) made up 55 percent of the Nebraska electorate in ’22. This generally tracks with rural-urban population trends reflected in the 2020 Census.
›› Provisional ballots, often referred to as the “ballot of last resort,” declined from 8,446 in 2018’s midterm general election to 6,025 in 2022. This makes some sense, given how many more voters are choosing early voting and so they aren’t showing up at the wrong polling place on Election Day.
Here’s our day-of report on how the election went from our on-the-ground observers and our Election Protection Line. What’s next? Stay tuned for our Election Protection Report on the 2022 general election, which will be published in early 2023.
Thanks for voting, Nebraska!

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