Nebraska Secretary of State John Gale hopes to increase voter turnout by allowing online registration and expanding on the use of all-mail ballots in special elections. Gale visited McCook Wednesday and said he intended to seek legislative approval in the coming session for online registration and believed the Internet could help the state reach out to more voters. “Hopefully it will be a big convenience, voters wouldn’t have to secure a paper form or even go to their county office,” said Gale. Gale said he planned to confirm the online submissions by asking legislators to allow the Department of Motor Vehicles to populate the voter database with driver’s license numbers and the last four digits of citizen’s social security number. “This will help authenticate citizenship and ensure valid and appropriate registration,” said Gale, adding that he needed legislative authorization to do it.
Gale’s office also plans to revise the paper voter registration form to make it easier to use and understand, all in an effort to increase voter turnout.
“Your vote counts. A number of citizens don’t think it makes a difference and as a result vote infrequently. For a strong democracy it starts at the bottom, the more vibrant we are at a local level, the stronger we are as a national representative government,” said Gale.
Gale said voters could see immediate consequences of their vote on a local level and he hoped to encourage the local vote not only by way of the Internet, but also by expanding on all-mail balloting procedures.
In 2004 legislation was passed allowing special elections for non-candidate issues to be conducted exclusively by mail. The special elections focus primarily on economic issues, such as sales tax and bond issues, according to Gale.