Voter turnout nears 60 percent in Gage County
Gage County saw a high voter turnout this week in the general election.
Based on unofficial results from Tuesday, voter turnout in Gage County was at 59 percent, a good turnout according to Gage County election commissioner Dawn Hill.
“Based on the numbers I was getting earlier talking to the polls, they were at 500 people in a midterm election,” Hill said. “That’s great. For the amount of people they had when we talked to the poll sites, I think there was some interest.”
In Gage County, 8,459 votes were cast by 14,266 registered voters.
This year was also a strong year for early voting, with more than 3,700 voters requesting an early ballot. Hill said the vast majority of those were returned to her office.
“It seems like it’s higher than it’s been in the past,” she said. “I know the number of early ballots were a lot higher. We had over 3,700 for a midterm and I think we were short 80 or something like that.”
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.
Hill said voter turnout was among the highest she can remember for a midterm election.
The trend was echoed across the national as high voter turnouts were reported, with a variety of reasons speculating why.
Locally in Beatrice, Hill said interest in a sales tax issue to build a new fire station likely helped drive numbers up.
The additional half-cent sales tax will generate around $1 million annually and be removed once the station is paid off, or in 10 years.
The current city sales tax is 1.5 percent, and will be raised to 2 percent, bringing the total sales tax to 7.5 percent.
Unofficial results Tuesday night showed a total of 2,132 votes in favor of the sales tax issue to 1,860 voting in opposition.
Hill said she was impressed with the overall turnout, and she hopes the trend continues in future elections.
“When you go through all this work for months and months, you want people to vote,” she said. “It’s great that people are exercising their right.”