Natrona County Will Revert To Old Way Of Counting Ballots; Results Were Posted Later Than Usual
The Natrona County Clerk posted primary election results much later than usual Tuesday night because of a new way of counting ballots, County Clerk Renea Vitto said.
That won't happen again, Vitto said after a long night.
"It did take quite a bit more time, this time, but I think for the general (election) we'll go back to doing it the way we were," she said.
The county's new employee who oversaw the counting of the ballots and had an idea to expedite counting.
Instead of feeding absentee ballots into the central count machine as they came in, they were opened at the same time so they could be processed as a batch, Vitto said. "The problem is it took a little bit longer getting them all opened than we expected."
Counting the absentee ballots was delayed because the memory cards and paper ballots from the election machines at the precincts came in sooner than expected, she said.
The county posted first unofficial results about 8:50 p.m.
The results from the 3,732 absentee ballots, or 25.8 percent of the total ballots cast, were posted about 10:30 p.m.
To avoid this for Nov. 8 general election, the county clerk's office will revert to the previous system that often had all the unofficial results posted by about 8:30 p.m.
The silver lining in these hassles was the relatively strong voter participation that meant more ballots to count.
Of the 26,120 registered voters in the county, 14,456 of them -- 55.3 percent -- cast ballots, according to the county clerk's elections website.
Voter turnout for primaries in presidential election years usually hovers between 35 percent and 47 percent, she said.
The turnout, Vitto said, also may have been affected by the high number of absentee ballots cast -- 3,732 -- that offset a lower turnout at the two consolidated polling places, Vitto said. "People were afraid they were going to get into some long lines and some confusion and they didn't want to do that so they chose to absentee vote instead."
Fourteen precincts in Wards I and II from central and west Casper were grouped at the Industrial Building at the Fairgrounds. Six precincts in Ward III from east Casper were grouped at the Restoration Church at 411 S. Walsh Drive.
Vitto, with the approval of the Natrona County Commission in March, made the consolidation decision because of complaints about problems at school polling places and Shepherd of the Valley nursing home in Paradise Valley.
Voters' concerns about the economy, jobs and whether they will be able to remain in Wyoming contributed to the higher turnout, too, Vitto said. "They're interested in going out to vote for that person they think is going to go fight for keeping jobs in Wyoming."