Special election brings higher voter turnout than anticipated

It was the first one Lancaster County's held since 1951

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – Tuesday’s special election between State Sens. Mike Flood and Patty Pansing Brooks brought in over 60,000 voters in Lancaster County and 110,000 throughout the 1st District.

The election took place to replace former Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, who resigned shortly after being convicted of three felonies.

This special election was the first one Lancaster County has had in 71 years, making its turnout an unknown.

“We really weren’t sure how things would go,” Lancaster County Election Commissioner Dave Shively said. “We were a little busier than I anticipated we would be.”

Shively said 39,000 people showed up to the polls on election day, while another 30,000 participated in either mail-in or early in-person voting. These totals make up 35% of Lancaster’s registered voters, and while that number is great, Shively said there’s always room for improvement.

“Traditionally, primary elections, city or local elections and even special elections don’t garner the type of turnout that we’ve had happen with general elections in November,” Shively said. “A presidential election is going to be the type of election with our highest turnout, and then next is going to be statewide general elections.”

A new trend in elections is an increase in early in-person or mail-in ballots, so if you can’t physically make it to the polling place on Election Day in November, there are still plenty of opportunities to cast your ballot and make your voice heard.

“In Nebraska, anyone who’s a registered voter can vote early,” Shively said. “You don’t have to provide us with a reason or excuse; the Legislature made that clear about 20 years ago.”

In the coming weeks, any remaining provisional ballots will be counted and the results from Tuesday will be certified, sending Flood to Washington.

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