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Students Vote, 11.1.18

Election commissioner and student council member Kinley Vliger (right), a Humann Elementary School fifth-grader, watches as fellow fifth-grader Aurie Burkey registers to cast a ballot as the students vote on the candidates and issues Thursday. About 22,000 students were expected to cast a ballot during the biennial student vote at LPS schools. Story, Page A3.

Records are being broken in voter registration for both Lancaster County and the state,  while early voting requests are significantly higher than those of four years ago, election officials said Thursday.

Secretary of State John Gale said 1,219,644 people have registered to vote in Nebraska for the 2018 general election, topping the previous record of 1,211,101 set two years ago.

"Nebraskans have registered in higher numbers than we have ever seen, which is especially impressive for a midterm election," he said in a news release.

Lancaster County's voter registration neared 192,000, Election Commissioner David Shively said, with 2,600 more voters than the previous record.

Amid record registration numbers, Gale and Shively both said they expect more than half of the registered voters in the state and county, respectively, to cast ballots this year.

Statewide turnout should reach 56 percent, Gale said; Shively predicts 106,000 votes in Lancaster County — a voter turnout of 55 percent.

"As this is my final election that I will oversee as your Secretary of State, I have high hopes for record turnout," Gale said. "But it all comes down to the voters. There are significant races and issues to decide."

Gale encouraged voters to take time to vote or to return their early ballots to their election office.

"Your ballot is waiting for you," he said, "go cast it."

As the methods for voting have expanded, more Nebraskans have already made their choice this year through early voting than four years ago.

Of the 213,791 requests for an early ballot so far, whether through the mail, in-person at an election office, or in an all-mail precinct, a total of 142,480 voters have already made their decision.

Four years ago, only 117,710 Nebraskans took part in early voting. That number grew substantially for the 2016 general election, when 220,914 people cast a ballot before Election Day.

In Lancaster County, election officials have received more than 34,000 requests for early voting ballots, Shively said, which far exceeds the 21,126 received in the last midterm election.

2018 Voter's Guide

2018 Lincoln Journal Star Voter's Guide — General Election Edition

Your guide to Lincoln-area races that will appear on the Nov. 6, 2018 general election ballot. Click on a race name to view candidates and other information.

Republican Sen. Deb Fischer will face Democratic nominee Jane Raybould of Lincoln in the Senate race.

Nebraska holds three seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. Eastern Nebraska's 1st District includes Lincoln; the 2nd District includes Omaha; and the vast 3rd District encompasses western and central Nebraska along with the northeastern and southeastern corners of the state.

Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts faces Sen. Bob Krist of Omaha, the Democratic nominee, in this year's gubernatorial race.

The auditor of public accounts oversees an office that conducts audits of state agencies, boards and bureaus. The auditor also is responsible for annual audits of certain political subdivisions and educational service units and reviews all audits conducted by auditors of political subdivisions.

The Nebraska Public Service Commission regulates telecommunications carriers, natural gas utilities, major oil pipelines, railroad safety, passenger carriers (such as taxis and ride-hailing services) and household goods movers, grain warehouses and dealers, modular home and recreational vehicle construction, high-voltage electric transmission lines and private water company rates.

Forty-nine women and men serve in Nebraska's unique, one-house Legislature.

The Lower Platte South Natural Resources District covers about 1,600 square miles in Southeast Nebraska, including most of Lancaster and Cass counties and parts of Otoe, Seward, Butler and Saunders counties.

Two of three seats on the Lancaster County Board of Commissioners are up for election this year, although one is uncontested.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7120 or cdunker@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @ChrisDunkerLJS.

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