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Turnout expected to be good, but why not more?
The polls had just opened as this was being written, but of Secretary of State John Gale is correct, 71 percent of registered voters will cast their ballots by the close of polls today.
Gale has good reason to be optimistic.
"Presidential election years generate the highest voter turnouts in Nebraska, time after time," Gale said. In 2004, turnout was 68 percent, and in 2008, just over 71 percent of registered voters cast their ballots, he noted.
Besides the presidential election, Nebraskans have a chance to vote to replace retiring Sen. Ben Nelson, either with State Sen. Deb Fischer or former U.S. Senator and Governor Bob Kerrey -- likely the nastiest, most well-financed state races in history.
Add to that, in Southwest Nebraska, the Middle Republican Natural Resources District board election -- spurred by the NRD's major plan to purchase and retire a huge tract of farmland in southern Lincoln County and divert the water into the Platte and Republican basins when needed.
Gale also noted statewide races for three congressional seats, four constitutional amendments and several close legislative races.
"The Electoral College vote in the 2nd Congressional District may come into play as it did four years ago," Gale said, when Nebraska gave one electoral vote to Barack Obama and two to George W. Bush.
Actually, the polls may not be as busy as previous elections, when there were not so many opportunities for early voting.
"Most registered voters are ready to vote," Gale said. "We are seeing record numbers for early voting, in-person and by mail-in ballot, all across the state," he said in a release late last week.
Of Nebraska's 1.8 million residents, 1,164,1 66 are registered to vote -- 558,170 Republicans, 374,191 Democrat, 228,563 nonpartisan, 3,117 Libertarian, 125 Americans Elect.
"I would be pleased if statewide voter turnout exceeded my expectation," Gale said. "I'm always optimistic that people feel the need to take part in the election process. Every vote counts, so I urge each registered voter to make their mark.
I applaud all our citizens who are voting now and on Election Day," said Gale. "Our precinct voting should go smoothly and quickly for voters, and our election officials and poll workers are trained, ready and eager to help."
Let's hope Gale is right, and turnout exceeds the 71 percent he expects.
The only question we have is, why isn't it 100 percent? There's still time if you're reading this before 8 p.m.