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Voter turnout lower than predicted in 2024 primary but still higher than pre-2020 average

Posted at 2:35 PM, May 31, 2024

LINCOLN — Coming into the 2024 primary Secretary of State Bob Evnen predicted a voter turnout of 35%.

But when the dust had settled and the votes were counted only a little over 28% of voters showed up.

That number might not seem great but historically, it’s right on track.

“The turnout this year exceeded the turnout of 4 of the last 5 presidential primaries. The one primary that was higher was in 2020 in the midst of covid,” said Secretary of State Bob Evnen.

The increased focus on elections in 2020 and 2022 seems to be slowing down in 2024.

2020 was a high water mark for Nebraska as far as presidential primaries go. 40% of voters showed up, a big difference from the 25.7% that the state was averaging between 2000 and 2016.

So we were lower than predicted, but still above the average.

“I think, especially for the elections in Nebraska, they were just not very competitive, said UNO Political Science Professor Gregory Petrow.

Petrow believes that low excitement amongst voters kept many of them home.

Several of the states incumbent Republicans faced contentious primary challengers but those challengers were lesser known populist Republicans that Petrow believes voters weren’t familiar with.

“The challengers against the incumbents had very low name recognition and very low spending,” said Petrow.

The state GOP though, had a different interpretation of the low number of votes.

In a statement after the primaries the GOP leadership team expressed concerns with election security saying in part, “Communication and transparency with poll watchers and numbers in certain counties occurred and should be concerning to all.”

The statement did not clarify what those concerning numbers were.

We asked Even about the GOP statement, he said they were entitled to voice their concerns but didn’t agree that election security was in issue in 2024.

“Our elections are conducted by the counties, our county election officials work very hard to make ensure that elections go on smoothly and that they are fair and secure, and they have succeeded,” said Evnen.