Early votes pile in ahead of election

October 30, 2018

Election officials are predicting a strong turnout in Gage County next week for the 2018 general election.

Gage County Election Commissioner Dawn Hill said as of Monday there were 3,547 requests for early voting and to receive a ballot by mail. Of those, 2,542 have already been returned to her office.

The deadline to request an early ballot by mail was Friday, as was also the deadline to register to vote in the election, but registered voters can still vote early in person at the county clerk’s office on the second floor of the courthouse.

“They can vote early up until Nov. 5 at 5 p.m.,” Hill said. “You can still vote early here because we are a polling site. They can come in and pick up their ballot yet until 5 p.m. and then they have to go to the polls on election day.

“We’ve got a lot of the biggest projects we have to do out of the way. Then there’s certain things you can’t do until you hit these deadlines, which today we’ll start printing reports and sending them to the secretary of state’s office.”

In the last midterm election in 2014 there was a total of 7,527 ballots cast, 3,032 being early ballots, resulting in a 54 percent voter turnout.

In 2016 there was a total of 10,268 cast ballots, including 3,833, early ballots, for a 72 percent voter turnout.

Turnout next week will likely be higher than in the spring primary election, where voter turnout was around 36 percent with 5,123 ballots cast.

Hill said the additional ballot items, including a city sales tax proposal to raise funds for a proposed new fire station, will likely increase turnout.

“Your primaries are usually lower just because there’s not as much on a primary ballot so some people choose not to necessarily vote,” she said. “I think it’s definitely making a difference. We have a full ballot this time. We have front and back on every ballot and then in the precincts in town they will have two pages. One issue will be on a second page.”

Hill added that early ballots must be returned to her office; they can’t be delivered to polling sites.