Due to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Park County elections officials have been encouraging local voters to cast absentee ballots in 2020. Early indications are that more local voters …
Due to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Park County elections officials have been encouraging local voters to cast absentee ballots in 2020. Early indications are that more local voters are planning to do so.
As of Tuesday, the Park County Clerk’s Office had received 3,646 requests for absentee ballots for the Aug. 18 primary election. With nearly two months to go until Election Day, that’s already more than double the number of people who requested absentees in the last presidential year primary. In 2016, only 1,503 voters cast absentee ballots among the 6,750 total votes.
“We would like to see a little bit more,” Clerk Colleen Renner said Tuesday of the current absentee requests, adding that, “definitely more is better, because it’s just less people we have to handle on Election Day.”
Renner has been encouraging residents to vote absentee in this year’s elections instead of going to the polls; amid the pandemic, the county must implement various precautions to keep voters apart and clean surfaces — and traditional polling places in Garland, Heart Mountain, Wapiti and the South Fork are being closed due to the difficulty of social distancing at those spots and concerns about a shortage of election judges.
Absentee ballots will start being distributed next week, on Friday, July 3, and residents can continue to request them up through Monday, Aug. 17. They can be returned any time before the polls close on Election Day — at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 18.
Renner noted that absentee ballots give voters more time to make their choices. She encouraged local residents to consider the possibility that they develop a fever on Election Day, wind up unable to go to the polls and miss out on voting altogether.
Absentee ballots can be submitted by mail or dropped off at the Park County Courthouse — either in person in the elections office during regular business hours or at any time in a secure box set up outside the building.
Renner said she and her staff plan to check the box a couple times a day, seven days a week. The clerk had hoped to set up another secure bin in Powell for voters’ convenience, but the Wyoming Secretary of State’s Office is only allowing one near her office, she said.
“I tried, I really did try to get one in both places,” Renner said.
For more information about requesting an absentee ballot, visit sos.wyo.gov/Elections or www.parkcountyelections.net. Park County residents with questions can also call the elections office at 307-754-8620 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.