On Friday, Sept. 23, the Park County Elections Office will mail over 2,300 absentee ballots as general election voting begins in the county.
Sept. 23 also marks the beginning of early voting in the courthouse.
Hans Odde, first deputy to the county clerk, said the county’s list of absentee voters is less than half the size it was during the 2020 general election, but is comparable to absentee participation in earlier general elections.
Elections clerk CJ Baker said 5,978 absentee ballots were cast in the 2020 general election. In the 2018 general election, 2,379 Park County voters cast absentee ballots. In the 2016 general election, 2,945 voters cast absentee ballots.
Both Baker and Odde said the 2020 election was “an outlier” due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Wyoming Secretary of State’s office made a concerted effort to encourage people to vote absentee in 2020 due to public health concerns, Odde said, and the office has made no such effort in 2022.
As such, absentee numbers are in line with previous general elections and with numbers from August’s primary election, when a total of 2,332 Park County residents – or 19% of the voting public – cast absentee ballots, Baker said.
Through Nov. 7, voters can request an absentee ballot by visiting the courthouse, by calling the elections office at 307-527-8620 or emailing email@example.com. Absentee ballots must be returned to the elections office by mail or in person before the polls close at 7 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 8, Odde said.
The number of Park County voters who chose to vote early at the courthouse has steadily increased since early voting was introduced during the 2018 primary election, Odde said. During the 2018 general election, 679 county residents voted early, and during the 2020 general election, 2,958 voted early.
During the August 2022 primaries, 2,356 voters – or 19% of the voting population – voted early, Baker said.
Odde said the elections office prioritizes election security when residents vote early at the courthouse.
“We take early voting as seriously as our in-person election day voting,” Odde said. “We consider this office a polling location just like we would consider the Cody Auditorium or the Cody Rec Center a polling place. We are vigilant about securing ballots and voting machines, and making sure the person standing in front of us is who they say they are.”
Early voting will remain available in the elections office from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every weekday through Monday, Nov. 7.
Both voting early and voting in person on Election Day are subject to the state’s new voter ID law that requires residents to show their driver’s license or other acceptable identification before voting in person, Odde said.
Odde said the county had no problems enforcing the law during the primaries earlier this year.
“We didn’t have a single person who complained about it,” Odde said. “There were a few people who had to run out to their car and grab their ID, but the majority of people who came in were prepared and happy to comply.”
On Election Day itself, local residents can vote at their polling place between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. The county will serve voters at the same polling locations used for the primary election, Baker said.
While many residents take advantage of early and absentee voting, the majority still choose to vote in person on Election Day, Baker said. In the August primary election, 7,678 people, or roughly 62% of voters, cast their ballots at their polling places.