Casper residents who have voted at 16 schools will cast their ballots at two places for the primary and general elections, Natrona County Clerk Renea Vitto said Wednesday.

"After the 2014 election, basically we were under the understanding that 16 schools really couldn't handle us anymore," Vitto said. "That was a lot."

Vitto, who has the responsibility of conducting elections, will present a resolution to the county commissioners at its 5:30 p.m. Tuesday meeting to consolidate 20 polling places to the Industrial Building at the fairgrounds and Restoration Church at 411 S. Walsh Drive.

There have been 27 precincts within the city. Seven precincts will remain the same as will polls outside Casper, she said. "The schools in the outlying places have not been crowded."

But crowding, Vitto said, was among many problems at the schools in Casper:

  • Lack of parking.
  • Construction.
  • Changing polling places within the buildings.
  • Lack of access required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Propped-open doors for polling places in November.
  • Safety issues with possible lockdowns during emergencies.

So combining 14 polling places at the Industrial Building and six polling places at Restoration Church makes sense, Vitto said.

Wednesday, Natrona County School District Superintendent Steve Hopkins said the district has made some changes to better enable voting at the schools.

But Vitto said a woman assigned by the school district to work with her determined nearly all the schools had various problems.

It's too late now to reverse the decision to consolidate polls for the Aug. 16 primary and the Nov. 8 general election, she added.

Renea Vitto Tom Morton, Townsquare Media
Renea Vitto
Tom Morton, Townsquare Media

Besides the schools, the polling place at the Shepherd of the Valley Healthcare Center in Paradise Valley will relocate to the Industrial Building, she said.

The consolidation would have an economic benefit as the county grapples with the economic downturn because it could save as much as $50,000 in conducting the elections, Vitto said.

The County Clerk's elections office probably will not need as many election judges for the two large locations as it did for the 20 polling places, she said.

"You don't need five to seven judges in each building," Vitto said. "You'll have three at each of these polling tables. Then you will have the people who work the front, which we're calling 'the greeters.'"

Residents can find out where they should vote by visiting the County Clerk's elections division website.

Vitto will be sending notices to voters and will be issuing press releases to remind people of the new polling places.

She also will urge people to vote absentee, she said. "Anyone who feels they can't make this change or they don't want to make this change for this year, definitely call us, get an absentee ballot, come to the courthouse."