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Voter turnout high amid some problems

14,706 residents cast ballots

Fewer Park County residents turned out to vote in Tuesday’s general election than did in the last presidential election, but turnout was still relatively high.

Unofficial results from the Park County Clerk Jerri Torczon’s office show that 14,706 residents cast ballots — many of them voting by absentee prior to the election.

Given that only 14,510 residents had been registered to vote prior to Election Day, that would put the unofficial turnout at about 101 percent. However, when the ballots cast are compared to the number of Park County residents eligible to vote, turnout was more like 65 percent.

That beats Wyoming and the U.S. as a whole.

Statewide, about 57 percent of eligible voters — some 248,000 people — turned out. Nationwide, early estimates pegged turnout slightly higher.

Some 15,049 voters cast ballots in 2008’s general election in Park County — 342 more than did this year. However, the turnout Tuesday was far stronger than the 2010 general election (11,585 voters) and leaps and bounds better than the 6,941-vote turnout in August’s primary election.

A couple problems cropped up with the voting machines on Tuesday. The issues were ultimately straightened out, but they delayed results.

Immediately after the polls opened, it was discovered that the ballot-counting machines were misreading the precinct labels at the bottom of the ballot. A solution was quickly found by Torczon’s elections staff, though it took a few hours to get the fix over to Powell.

While the fix was pending, voters were directed to put their ballots in emergency bins. All the ballots were later collected and counted correctly, elections staff say.

What proved to be a trickier problem were issues with voting machines on the South Fork, in Meeteetse and in one Cody precinct. Clerk’s First Deputy Mike Demoney said Tuesday that the issue had to do with the machines misreading parts of the ballot. The parts being misread were measures that had been misprinted in earlier forms of the ballot. For example, the Cody school board race had been inadvertently left off the initial version of the ballot for South Fork residents. The voting machines, Demoney said, were having problems with the corrected versions.

The Wyoming Secretary of State’s Office opted to fly a technician and staff member up to Cody on Tuesday afternoon to assist, and they stayed on hand until the ballot-counting wrapped up just before 1 a.m.

Park County ended up being the last of Wyoming’s 23 counties to report its results to the Secretary of State’s Office.

The problems with the machines slowed things down, particularly because all the ballots in the affected machines were re-run to double-check for accuracy, elections staff said.

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