It’s been nearly a month since ballots in the 2020 Nebraska Primary were cast. Recently, Nebraska’s Board of State Canvassers made the primary’s statewide vote count official. In total, 492,580 ballots were cast, smashing a 48-year-old record for a state primary. That’s about 20,000 more votes than the Secretary of State’s unofficial, day-of totals. In other words, the good news just got better.
Whatever the measure, it’s obvious the primary was an overwhelming success. Most notably, 415,718 of primary ballots – 84 percent – were cast by mail, lifting Nebraska’s voter participation to 40.5 percent. That’s a big jump from previous primaries. By comparison, in 2016 the primary drew 27 percent.
Given that the primary featured an incumbent Republican president and an all-but-settled Democratic presidential nomination race, the totals were impressive. It shows Nebraskans’ conviction in the power of the vote and their confidence in mail-in ballots. When more people vote, democracy wins. Our institutions and representatives are more reflective of the state. Voters are more likely to stay engaged. More voters mean more engagement. And that’s a beautiful thing.
Civic Nebraska joined election officials this year to promote vote-by-mail amid COVID-19 concerns. We’ve experienced firsthand the enthusiasm for its ease and convenience. Since May 12, we’ve responded to countless emails and calls from first-time vote-by-mailers asking when they can request early ballots for November. Others have shared their excitement about voting by mail.
Speaking of, the first day to request early mail-in ballots for the Nov. 3 election is July 6. As we did for the primary, Civic Nebraska is assisting Nebraskans with reminders to request a mail-in ballot. We’re also helping voters request the form to get an early ballot. Go to CivicNebraska.vote for more information.
As the state’s pre-eminent voting-rights organization, we’d love to see a repeat record in November. In case you’re wondering, Nebraska’s record for participation in a general election was just four years ago – 860,573 ballots. That seems attainable, don’t you think?