Record voter registrations, a boost in early voting and more interest than typical for a midterm election could turn out more than half of the Nebraska electorate for the first time since 2006.
Nebraska Secretary of State John Gale predicted a record midterm turnout of 56 percent statewide for Tuesday’s election, his office said in a press release Thursday.
It would be the highest midterm turnout since Gale took office, higher than the 53.6 percent who voted in 2006 and much higher than the 43.5 percent in 2010 and 47.6 percent in 2014.
Much of the boost is being powered by a record 213,791 early ballots requested, including about 30,000 each from Democrats and Republicans in Douglas County.
The previous record for early ballot requests in a midterm election was 136,487 in 2014. More early ballots than that have already been filled out and returned.
“I have high hopes for record turnout,” Gale said. “But it all comes down to the voters.”
Douglas and Sarpy Counties also expect higher-than-usual turnout for a midterm election, with Douglas County Election Commissioner Brian Kruse predicting a turnout of 52 percent and Sarpy County Election Commissioner Michelle Andahl predicting 53 percent turnout.
The election commissioners described voter interest as closer to a presidential year than a typical midterm.
The Omaha area has a competitive congressional race involving GOP Rep. Don Bacon and Metropolitan Community College board member Kara Eastman, a Democrat.
But several recent House races locally have been competitive, and turnout was less.
Sarpy’s Andahl said she’s excited by the first-time voters.
“We have over 1,200 voters that registered this year who are 18 and will be voting in their first election.”