Special elections for non-candidate issues in Nebraska conducted exclusively by mail in 2011, 2012 and 2013 continue to reflect higher voter turnout rates than non-candidate special elections at polling places, according to Secretary of State John Gale. So far in 2013, of the 15 special non-candidate elections where county election officials had the option of using all-mail in ballots or polling places, 10 have used the all-mail method or 67 percent. Turnout for the all-mail elections averaged 49 percent, versus 32 percent for elections using polling places. As Gale explained, the all-mail method can only be used to decide special ballot issues. Special elections involving an office vacancy or a recall of an official must by law still use polling places. “All-mail elections for small rural precincts eliminate concerns about finding ADA compliant polling sites or about getting to a polling place in poor weather for farmers or ranchers in those precincts. In addition, election officials can avoid the costs and challenge of finding and training poll workers for those small precincts in a special election,” Gale said.
Of 16 local special non-candidate elections held in 2012, eight were carried out as all-mail in elections, or 50 percent. Turnout for all-mail special elections averaged 41 percent.
In 2011, turnout for all-mail special elections averaged 49 percent compared with 33 percent at the polls. And in the three years previous, all-mail special elections prompted greater turnout than did those where voters went to the polls.
“The results for these years continue to confirm what we’ve been seeing for the past several years – that the all-mail in ballot method is becoming more popular for special elections and it’s consistently generating higher turnouts,” Gale said.