Now It’s Time to Show Up and VOTE in LOCAL Elections
Decisions are made by those who show up! This phrase is one that is very prominent especially around election time every cycle, which is so true. Throughout my career, I often spend some time after each election pondering the outcomes of each election. Voter turnout is a number which always intrigues me and a number I look at a lot.
During the recent national election, we saw record numbers of voters voting, which was encouraging to many. Here in Lancaster, over 155,000 voters participated in the election last month, or about 77.0% of registered voters. Some will call that awesome turnout, others will question why more voters didn’t participate. For me, I wanted to look back and compare turnout from past elections, which was very revealing to me.
In the City of Lincoln, we have elections every year, unlike most communities in our state. In even number years, we have either a mid-term or presidential race. In the odd numbered years, we have several local offices—mayor, city council, school board, airport authority, and sometimes various city charter changes, bond issues, or petition matters. Consider this, we had a record number of votes cast in our last election cycle (2019) for various local offices, and the voter turnout was 36.8%. I believe as voters, we can do better than 36.8% turnout. Let’s look at the raw numbers for voter turnout for the last three general elections in Lincoln/Lancaster County: 2020 – 155,020 (76.3%); 2019 – 62,157 (36.8%); and 2018 – 117,836 (61.4%).
Here’s what I find interesting and ask you to ponder—we have a high turnout percentage for our election of President of the United States. However, in 2019 less than 40% of registered voters participated in the election which includes several local offices, which have major taxing authority locally. In 2018 midterm election, we in Nebraska elect statewide offices such as governor and other constitutional offices, which have an impact on our day-to-lives and the taxes we pay. Yet, the turnout of voters in both of those elections, which impact our daily lives in Nebraska, had fewer voters than the presidential election.
I believe we can and should do better! There are significant discrepancies in voter turnout between the “big” national elections and our local elections. I would encourage you to make sure you are informed and are participating in our local elections. Your vote matters and decisions are made by those who show up! Show up when taxing entities are asking for more of your tax money. Show up to vote for the offices which are impacting local taxes, local regulations, and local policies. Show up and make your voice be heard.
Did you know Lancaster County has a permanent absentee voter list you can be added to? It is very simple to sign up for the list by contacting the Lancaster County Election Commissioner’s office or go to their website and download the request form and submit the form. You will be sent notification prior to the ballots being sent to make sure your address hasn’t changed and you return the card to get your ballot through the mail.
With all we have going on our lives, our local election commissioner has created a way to make sure we show up and have our voice be heard. I believe we all need to do our part to participate in our election process. With the internet these days, learning about candidate positions is simple. Remember, decisions are made by those who show up!