by Bud Synhorst

As business owners and leaders in our community it is necessary to pay attention and participate in local elections. From my time working in politics, the phrase, “all politics is local,” holds true for the business community. While it appears when we watch the evening news, everything political happens at the national level. But, in reality, the biggest decisions impacting our daily lives happens right here in our local elections.

Many often forget until it is too late that we have local elections for mayor, city council, school board, and airport authority in years when there are no other elections happening in Nebraska. The Lincoln elections for 2023 are happening on April 4th and May 2nd.

Looking back at the last three city elections to elect a mayor and city council district representatives, the turnout numbers are not great. The 2019 Primary Election had 31.17% voter turnout and the General Election had 36.84% turnout. In 2015, the Primary Election had 23.80% turnout while the General Election turnout was 30.10%. Finally in 2011 the Primary Election turnout was 13.73% and the General Election turnout was 21.42%. We can all agree these turnout numbers are not what we would hope for in a local election which has a tremendous impact on property taxes and policies for our city.

Often times when talking about elections, I use the phrase, “decisions are made by those who show up.” When looking at these past three elections, the average turnout for a Primary is 22.9% and for the General it is 29.45%. Lincoln, we can do better! We must do better!

Comparatively, during federal elections, the average turnout in a Primary for the last two non-presidential cycles was 29.31% and a General Election, 59.47%. During presidential elections, average primary turnout for the past two cycles was 36.2% and the General average was 75.58%.

How you can “show up?”

  1. Know when elections are happening in your community. Frequently people are uninformed as to when the elections are happening in their communities and miss the elections. In 2023, the dates are April 4th and May 2nd.
  2. Know the rules for absentee (or often referred to as mail-in) voting. Know the dates to apply for a ballot and the process. Make sure you have all the information you need to make it happen. You can contact the Lancaster County Election Commission office to learn more about absentee/mail-in voting.
  3. If you are someone apprehensive about voting absentee or by mail, you can vote in person at the Election Commission office located at 601 N. 46th Street in Lincoln.
  4. Vote – no matter whether it is on Election Day, by mail, or in-person early voting it is our duty as Americans to get out and vote.
  5. Make sure your friends, family, and neighbors are aware of upcoming elections and encourage them to vote.
  6. Research the candidates and vote for the one who will best represent your values. Let’s be honest – finding information about voting has never been easier with the access we have to information on our phones and computers with the internet! We really have no excuse to not show up and vote.

I believe we must complete our duty and vote in every election. There are many ways we can participate in the process. Now it is our responsibility to make sure we are informed and voting in our local elections.