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Voter turnout down from 2010

Park County voters didn’t exactly turn out in droves to weigh in on the most contested Republican primary races that the county has had in decades.

Unofficial election results showed that 6,941 voters cast ballots on Tuesday, which would mean about half of the county’s 13,419 registered voters turned out.

The 51.7 percent turnout figure is down from the 2010 primary, when turnout was 61.1 percent, but up from the 2008 primary, in which just 47.9 percent of voters showed up at the polls.

Voter turnout is calculated by comparing the number of people registered to vote to the number who actually did so. It does not count people who are eligible to vote and don’t register. Based on demographic data for Park County, it would appear that only about a third of people eligible to vote did so on Tuesday.

Initial results posted on the Park County Elections webpage Tuesday night indicated local turnout was far worse, around 36.7 percent. However, it was determined on Wednesday that more than 3,350 inactive voters had been counted inadvertently in calculating that figure.

All told, 6,941 Republicans and 416 Democrats cast ballots, as did 116 people who aren’t associated with a party.

There was little to vote on for Park County Democrats, who fielded no local candidates. For unaffiliated voters, there was only one contested race in Cody — for mayor — where the results will make a difference for the general election.

A whopping 92 percent of the ballots cast in Park County on Tuesday came from registered Republicans, who had many contested races — including two four-way races for the Wyoming House of Representatives in Powell and Cody, a seven-way race for two seats on the Park County Commission and a heated two-man Wyoming Senate race in western Park County.

It should be noted that it’s typical for a number of Democrats and unaffiliated voters to switch to the Republican party for the primary election because of the contested races on the GOP side.

Most of the results were totaled before 9 p.m., but it took another two and a half hours to finish tabulating the 1,368 absentee ballots. The clerk’s office plans to start counting those ballots earlier for the general election.

Despite being down this year, Park County’s primary election turnout apparently was in line with Wyoming as a whole.

State election director Peggy Nighswonger told The Associated Press that the state level of voter participation in the primary election was the lowest in the last 30 years.

Nighswonger said unofficial figures show that roughly 108,000 people voted out of about 218,000 registered voters, or 49.5 percent.

Turnout for the general election, which is Nov. 6, typically is far higher.

The filing period for special district races voted on in the general election, like school, hospital and cemetery district boards, closes on Monday. That’s also when any candidates wanting to make an independent run and get on the ballot must turn in their petitions of signatures.

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