Record number of Nebraskans turn out for primary election

Turnout at polling places across the state was much smaller Tuesday, May 12 as a record number of Nebraskans voted early because of the coronavirus pandemic.

In many counties, requests for early ballots exceeded the total number of votes cast in the 2018 primary election.


The 2020 primary election shattered the state record for absentee voting with close to 400,000 mail-in ballots.

With 23,716 registered voters and 6,274 votes cast, Scotts Bluff County had a voter turnout of 26.45%. County Clerk Kelly Sides said the majority of the votes came from mail-in ballots.

“From what I can tell, we had about 1,500 people at the polls,” she said. “I’m pleased with the way it went and we had no problems with the new voting equipment.”

In Scotts Bluff County, President Donald Trump sailed to an easy victory over challenger Bill Weld on the Republican ticket.

On the Democratic side, Joe Biden was also an easy winner over Bernie Sanders, who finished second in the field of four candidates.

In the race for U.S. Senate, Republican Ben Sasse easily won over challenger Matt Innis. Sasse will face Democratic challenger Chris Janicek and Libertarian candidate Gene Siadek this fall in the general election.

Nebraska Third District U.S. Congressman Adrian Smith was an easy winner over four challengers with more than 83% of the vote. His challengers this fall will be Democrat Mark Ellsworth Jr. and Libertarian Dustin C. Hobbs, both of whom were running unopposed.

Banner County Clerk Lisa Cross reported 280 voters, 67 of those were in person. She was also pleased with how the new voting equipment worked for them.

Easily winning their elections were Trump on the Republican ticket, Sasse and Smith.

Kimball County had 2,701 voters with a turnout of 48.2%, which included both in-person and mail-in ballots.

“The bulk of the vote was early mail-in ballots,” said Kimball County Clerk Cathy Sibal. “The new voting equipment provided by the state also worked well. I was grateful to still see voters coming out to vote.

In local Kimball County races, Carl Stander received 494 votes to win a seat on the county board.

Out of a field of nine candidates for the Kimball School Board, winners were Chauncey Pedersen, Albert Hargreaves and Lanny Little.

Results from Tuesday's election are preliminary and each county will canvas before results are finalized.

PHOTOS: Primary Election 2020

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Jerry Purvis is a reporter with the Star-Herald. He can be reached at 308-632-9046 or emailed at

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