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August 23, 2012 8:23 am

EDITORIAL: Half of voters making choices for all of county

Written by Ilene Olson

Just over half of Park County voters made some major decisions on the Republican ticket Tuesday.

They chose Lee Livingston and incumbent Bucky Hall to fill two seats on the Park County Commission.

They elected David Blevins of Powell to fill the Wyoming House of Representatives District 25 now held by Dave Bonner of Powell, who did not run for re-election.

They elected David Northrup of Powell to fill the Wyoming House of Representatives District 50 seat now held by incumbent Pat Childers of Cody.

And, in a very close race, they re-elected Hank Coe of Cody for Wyoming Senate District 18 over challenger Bob Berry of Cody.

Since no Democrats filed for any of those offices, those results are final — unless there is a successful write-in campaign or a Libertarian candidate petitions for election to one of those offices and wins.

The voter turnout in Park County for the primary election was calculated Wednesday at 51.7 percent. That’s about 10 percentage points lower than the 61.2 percent primary voter turnout two years ago.

That means that half of registered voters made important decisions for 100 percent of the people who live in Park County, and those decisions will affect the county and the state for the next four years.

It also means that the other half of registered voters in Park County who did not vote have no right to complain if they don’t like the decisions made by the people elected this week — though many of them likely will be some of the most vocal critics.

We believe the turnout likely illustrates another perpetual problem in Park County and in Wyoming: The lack of viable candidates willing to run on the Democratic ticket, leading to disenfranchisement of registered Democrats who have few, if any, choices on their ballot. Some Democrats choose to change their registration to Republican for the primary so they have some say in who their future leaders are, then change back once the primary is over.

In addition, some candidates who traditionally have registered as Democrats have been known to change their political affiliation to Republican, most likely so their candidacy will be more viable.

That is due to the historically large number of Park County and Wyoming voters who, in general elections, are unwilling to consider each candidate on his or her own merits, rather basing their decisions strictly on the party they identify with.

In the long run, that’s a lose-lose situation for all of us. The end result is less airing of different philosophies and a general election that becomes, in many cases, more of a formality than a choice between two strong candidates for an elected office.

Often, particularly in Wyoming, a conservative Democrat might lean farther to the right than a less conservative Republican. It’s our job to make the effort to know where each candidate stands. And it’s our duty to take the time to vote, even if it’s “just” a primary election.

1 Comment

  • Comment Link August 23, 2012 12:40 pm posted by Disgusted EX taxpayer

    Yeah,and those "half" are all RINO's. Politics in Park County are a joke anymore.

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