Wyoming may expand absentee voting for primary amid COVID-19

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming elections officials say they have no plans to move the date of the primary election in August but are looking at how to protect voters and poll workers from the coronavirus.

One option could be to prepare for more absentee voting.

Wyoming has an advantage compared to other states because its primary isn’t until Aug. 18, secretary of state spokesman Will Dinneen told the Wyoming Tribune Eagle.

“With that being said, we’re looking at facets of this fast-moving situation with COVID-19 to protect voters, poll workers and county staff, and to be able to respond nimbly as we move forward to that date,” Dinneen said.

State officials are working on a plan to expand absentee voting to anyone who prefers that option, Dinneen said.

Widespread absentee voting could change how candidates campaign. State law requires absentee ballots to be mailed 45 days before the primary.

“You’re going to have to do all of your campaigning before that first part of July, because most people are going to be voting as soon as they get their ballot,” said Rep. Tyler Lindholm, R-Sundance, who chairs the House Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee.

The August primary decides party nominees for federal and state office but not the presidential race. Democratic and Republican caucuses held in the spring of presidential election years decide the state’s preference for presidential nominees.

As of Wednesday, at least 221 people in 18 of Wyoming’s 21 counties had tested positive for the COVID-19 virus; at least 62 had recovered. Wyoming remained the only state with no recorded deaths.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.

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