Key Point

Local voter participation rates are much higher than the national average, despite less than half of eligible voters participating in elections.

Let's Break It Down

Our local voting rates among eligible voters hover between 30-40 percent for local and state elections.

Since 2010, the Metro area has consistently seen a voter turnout rate between 40-45 percent in both local and state (midterm) elections. In Presidential elections that rate has jumped to 67-74 percent.

2016 (Presidential) 2014 Midterm 2012 (Presidential) 2010 Midterm
Douglas 70% 45% 69% 40%
Sarpy 74% 44% Data not available 42%
Pottawattamie 67% 43% 70% 43%

While we have a high percentage of residents who are registered to vote (between 80-90%), our local voting rates—which look at the entire population of those eligible to vote—hover between 30-40 percent for midterm local and statewide elections, and 50-60 percent for Presidential year elections.

Why Does It Matter

Voting allows everyone to participate in democracy, and is essential to keeping our system of government functioning.

Voting is the most fundamental way for citizens to participate in our democratic society. It allows all eligible residents to have a voice in who represents them in government and a say in the laws and policies that help govern our communities.

Decisions made by public officials can impact nearly every aspect of an individual's life; from K-12 public schools and state universities, to public safety, rent and affordable housing policies, public transit, funding for nonprofits, and much more. Additionally, laws and policies can help support and advance other social issues that people have traditionally supported through philanthropy or volunteering.

Voting also helps hold our elected officials accountable for their actions and decisions. When communities show up to vote, elected officials take notice, and can be more likely to listen and respond when specific concerns or needs arise; the public will measured through voter participation may also advance policies that elected officials may not have championed otherwise.

Making sure that all eligible voters have access to elections and the information on the ballot is critically important. While voting is a fundamental right; it remains critically important to protect these rights for all individuals; especially the elderly, those who were previously incarcerated, disabled individuals, and those who may have difficulty accessing transportation to get a voting booth.

How Do We Compare?

Recent voter turnout rates in Douglas, Sarpy, and Pottawattamie Counties are considerably higher than both the state and national averages.

While we know that less than half of our region's eligible voters are participating in elections, our local voter turnout rates (67-74%) have still been consistently higher than statewide turnout rates in both Nebraska (58%) and Iowa (69%). Turnout rates in the three-county area are also significantly higher than the national voter turnout for the last two Presidential elections in 2012 and 2016.

Data Source: Douglas, Sarpy & Pottawattamie County Election Commissions, The Bipartisan Policy Center, The Election Project

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