What a Divided Nebraska Town Shows About Mail-in Voting

The Hill – A new study makes a case for at-home voting by drawing on a unique civic experiment: a town in rural Nebraska where half of the electorate chose to vote by mail in 2020, while the other half went to the polls.

Emerson, Neb., is a classic corn-belt farm town, with roughly 900 citizens and 500 voters. The western half of Emerson lies in Dixon County. Two other counties split the eastern half.

The town’s layout made it a perfect laboratory to test the merits of mail-in balloting. Dixon County conducted the 2020 election entirely by mail. The other counties did not.

The National Vote at Home Institute, a nonprofit that advocates for at-home balloting, commissioned a study. What it found: In the fall 2020 election, 78 percent of Emerson voters turned out in the western half of town, where everyone voted by mail. In the eastern half, where most people went to the polls, turnout stalled at 66 percent.

2022 Primary Turnout Driven by Abortion, Liz Cheney and Voting by Mail

The Fulcrum – Every state that relies heavily on voting by mail outperformed the national median during the 2022 primaries – but none of them led in turnout this year. That distinction went to Wyoming, where Rep. Liz Cheney ran in a statewide nominating contest, and Kansas, which put an abortion measure on the primary ballot.

But the seven states that do run vote-by-mail primaries were all in the top 20 – including four of the top seven – according to data collected by the National Vote at Home Institute.