Voter registration hits new high in Nebraska; record voter turnout expected in election

LINCOLN — While he admits that his crystal ball is a bit hazy, Nebraska Secretary of State John Gale is still predicting a record voter turnout in this year’s general election.

Voter registration has reached 1,211,449, a record, Gale said Monday afternoon. That figure is 46,000 higher than for the 2016 primary.

But the state’s top election official said it’s been harder this year to predict voter turnout because early voting before Nov. 8 has been “steady” but has not resulted in the “surge” he expected.

“Based on what the counties reported recently, approximately 137,000 ballots have been returned by mail or voted in person,” Gale said. “That number is certain to go up, but from what we see, many people are still holding onto ballots.”

Mailed ballots must be received by the close of polls on Nov. 8 to be counted. The last day to vote early, in person, is Monday.

Election Day, Gale said, appears to be when a majority of Nebraskans will vote.

During the last presidential election, 804,245 Nebraskans voted, a turnout of 69 percent. The turnout in the 2008 presidential election was 811,923, or 70 percent of all registered voters.

This year about 848,000 Nebraskans would need to vote to reach a turnout of 70 percent.

Gale added that county election officials recently completed a traditional “mock election” to test the accuracy of the tabulation equipment and practice loading election results onto a website managed by the secretary of state.

The practice election went smoothly, he said.

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