In Nebraska and around the U.S., vote-by-mail dominates

With 31 states having already held primary elections, those using mailed-out ballots – including Nebraska – are dominating the Top 10.

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An encouraging note arrived in our inboxes today from our friends at the National Vote at Home Institute and Coalition: Based on our record-setting primary in May, Nebraska is in the Top 10 states when it comes to voter participation.

As you recall, Nebraskans shattered a 48-year-old record for participation in the state’s primary on May 12, when 471,434 ballots were cast. The 39 percent turnout was 12 percentage points higher from the 2016 primary, and the total number of voters smashed 1972’s previous all-time high of 413,015. That’s mainly because Nebraskans overwhelmingly voted by mail – more than 400,000 of the ballots in the 2020 primary were cast via the state’s early mail-in option.

With well over half of states already done with primary voting, Nebraska is 10th in turnout. That’s great news for democracy – when more people participate, the more representative our systems and institutions become, locally, across the state, and across the country. In fact, the top five U.S. states and 11 out of the top 14 all used mailed-out ballots as the primary way to engage voters while keeping everyone safe, according to Vote at Home.

Nebraskans got a sense of the ease and security of voting at home this spring amid COVID-19. It’s clear, too, that vote-by-mail will be a popular option in November. That’s because it’s cost-effective, convenient, and safe – and, as Director of Public Policy Westin Miller said in the Omaha World-Herald on May 17, our state’s shared vote-by-mail experience highlighted how our state worked together to pull off a wildly successful primary amid the pandemic.

In Nebraska, 11 counties have already taken advantage of a state law allowing counties with fewer than 10,000 residents to conduct elections entirely by mail. All registered voters in those counties will automatically receive their ballots well before the Nov. 3 general election. Voters in all other Nebraska counties must request an early mail-in ballot for November. The first day to accept early-voting ballot requests in Nebraska is later this summer – to get your ballot request form for November, go to CivicNebraska.vote and we’ll be happy to help you secure your request form when it’s time.

Let’s bring it home in November!

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Nebraska smashed voting records in May. Can we do it again in November? With the growth in vote-by-mail and continued COVID-19 concerns, it’s possible.

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Brad Stephan
3 days ago

Don’t some counties have a one-time mechanism whereby those voters who ‘checked the box’ will automatically receive a Early Voter Request Form (or, do they automatically receive the actual ballot?) for all future elections, such as in Douglas, Lancaster and Sarpy counties? (Our election commissioner in Buffalo County declined to add that box, due to people moving over the years.) Thanks! 

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