If You Want Your Vote To Count, Fill In The Ovals On The Ballot
"X" does not mark the spot.
Nor does a check mark, a dot, a squiggle, a smiley face or a frowny face.
The ballots you will use in the general election Tuesday have ovals beside the names of the candidates, or if you choose, ovals besides the space for you to write in a candidate.
"Filling in the oval is important," Natrona County Clerk Renea Vitto said.
"Some people cross through it like an 'x,' some check it, and that is not a correct way to do it," Vitto said.
The polling places will have instructions about how to fill in the ovals on the ballots so votes are counted by the machine.
Yet despite the instructions, and the lessons we learned a long time ago with coloring books, some voters still don't fill in the oval correctly.
"In an absentee ballot, the consequences may be that it doesn't get counted," Vitto said.
With the general election Tuesday, if you incorrectly mark the ballot with a check or an 'x,' the central count machine may regard it as an unreadable ballot, she said.
If the machine is nice enough to spit the ballot back because your "X" doesn't make sense, you have the opportunity to fill in the oval and send the ballot into the machine.
Vitto said some voters will fill in an oval for one candidate in a race, then put a check mark in another oval in another race, and maybe an "X" in another oval for another race. The machine then will count the filled-in oval for that one race, but not count the check mark and "X" at all, which means your votes in those races don't count.
Wyoming is not a "voter-intent" state, she added. If those counting absentee ballots see a clearly check-marked oval, they'll credit a vote to that candidate. But if they can't determine your intent, your vote doesn't count. (Florida, by the way, was a "voter-intent" state in the 2000 presidential election, with the aftermath being a lot of people trying to figure out whether someone really did vote for a candidate, or if that "hanging chad" was just a goof.)
Vitto also cautioned voters to not over-vote. If the ballot says "vote for one" even if there are four candidates for an office -- such as U.S. Senator, U.S. Representative or Governor -- and you fill in two ovals, your vote will not be counted.
Likewise, if you are writing in a candidate, you must both fill in the oval and write the candidate's name. Neither the filled-in oval alone, nor the name alone will count, she said.
"We want all races to count," Vitto said.