Voting is coming up, here’s what you need to know

JACKSON, Wyo. — The Teton County Clerk’s Office has seen a dramatic uptick in absentee participation so far this early going.

In response to COVID-19, the Secretary of State’s office sent absentee ballot request forms to all registered voters in Wyoming. Normally, these forms must be requested by each individual voter from their respective county election offices, but this year the forms were mailed in order to practice social distancing and help slow the spread of the virus.

“Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Teton County Clerk’s Office is encouraging all voters to vote absentee-by-mail this year,” the Teton County website states.

County clerk Maureen Murphy said her office is anticipating a huge absentee voting year in both the primary and general election given concerns over COVID now added to trends that were headed that way already.

The clerk’s office sent out 2,694 early absentee ballots on just the first day of voting (July 2). Since then, another 200 or more have been sent.

By comparison, some 450, total, were sent in the 45-day primary voting period in 2018. Less than 400 were sent out for primaries during the 2016 election.

Murphy has noted some traffic in the early election room. Most of it is voters who are changing party affiliation or registering for the first time—procedures that need to be done in-person.

Counting more absentee votes than usual may slow the tallying and report process a little. Votes cast at election poll sites are tallied electronically fairly quickly. Tallying absentee votes, which cannot be opened until election day, requires a more laborious approach. Though code-reading machines are available in larger cities like Cheyenne and Casper, it remains to be seen how Teton County will handle the count of absentee ballots.

“It’s going to be tough to count absentees, we will have to see what the state says as far as how we do that,” Murphy said.

Meanwhile, the newly-appointed county clerk said she is looking forward to her first election, even if it is going to look very different from past years.

“I’m excited to be a part of the election process. What a time to come into office,” she said. “Protecting the integrity of the vote, honoring a truly American institution and expression of our rights and freedoms — it’s a privilege and a challenge I don’t take lightly. And the amazing team of people in this office are really the ones that will help make sure everything runs smoothly in August and November.”

Teton County has an absentee polling place that is located in the basement of the Teton County Administration Building at 200 S Willow Street, Jackson, WY 83001. All qualified electors wishing to vote in person by absentee may vote at the absentee polling site.

The absentee polling site is open Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for 45 days prior to the 2020 Primary Election and 2020 General Election. For the Primary Election, it will be open from July 2 to August 17. For the General Election, it will be open from September 18 to November 2.

Please keep in mind that the absentee polling site is not open on Election Day. You must vote at a designated vote center on Election Day.

The easiest way to register to vote before election day is to stop by the Teton County Clerk’s office at 200 S Willow Street, Jackson, WY 83001. Make sure you bring a valid Wyoming driver’s license. If you don’t have one, use these instructions to see what other forms of I.D. are acceptable.

Voter registration, address, and party changes will still be possible at a polling place on the day of the election.

Registration to vote usually takes less than ten minutes.

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