Commish

People packed a room in the basement of the Park County Courthouse where commissioners held a meeting to determine how to proceed with county polling places.

The residents of Clark, Wapiti, South Fork, Garland and the Heart Mountain area will get their polling places back. That was the decision made by the Park County commissioners at their meeting Tuesday.

On Aug. 19, the commissioners supported Park County Clerk Colleen Renner’s decision to close six polling locations for the Nov. 3 general election, but Bryan Skoric, Park County attorney, later determined this decision was illegal as state statute says the commissioners must make the decision themselves out of “public convenience.”

By not making a ruling on the matter Tuesday, the commissioners deferred to the status quo.

“I’m ready to close this,” Renner said.

At the meeting, she explained the motive for the closures came from social distancing concerns at the smaller polling locations and an inability to recruit election judges, who must undergo hours of training to become certified.

Leading up to election season, she said they mailed 249 letters to past judges asking for help, but only 85 responded, and of those, only 75 worked election day. In comparison, Park County had 176 judges for the 2018 primary elections. Renner did not mail letters to those 85-years or older, but the vast majority of judges she said, are over the age of 65.

Renner also said at the August meeting she wanted to reduce confusion for voters that could be caused by reverting back to the original locations.

Secretary of State Ed Buchanan had given Wyoming’s county clerks approval to close polling locations for the August primary in lieu of COVID-19 concerns, but never gave a direction on the general election.

Two days after the commissioner’s August decision and three months after the directive was released, Buchanan sent out formal notice that his department was not referring to the general election for poll site closures.

Still, Renner continued her desire to keep the polling places closed at Tuesday’s meeting. No commissioners expressed the same interest.

The issue of closing locations based on social distancing concerns appears to be a double-edged sword. A few constituents at the meeting complained that closing the rural polling locations caused large crowding at the larger polling sites on primary day, however a lack of judges and judges spaced too thin could theoretically cause the same problem at the smaller polling locales.

To avoid the latter problem, Joe Kelleher, vice president of the Clark Pioneer Recreation Center board, committed to having that entire facility available for voting – more space than was previously said available.

Renner implored Tuesday’s audience that more judges will be needed with all the polling places open. Commissioner Lee Livingston expressed confidence this will be achieved based on the turnout of more than 30 people for the weekday morning meeting.

A letter with the names of 35 residents attached expressing a commitment to serve as judges was already submitted to the clerk’s office, and Powell resident Larry French said he talked to four business owners who committed to giving their employees time off in order to judge.

Voter

disenfranchisement

Renner said it was not her intention to disenfranchise any voters and many in the audience agreed with her, although a few did say disenfranchisement occurred even if it wasn’t the intent.

Clark resident Kristie Hoffert expressed concern the absentee mailing process might confuse a senior citizen.

“I don’t want to see my community, and the elderly people of my community who have lived through on hell on Earth to get to the age they are now, disenfranchised as far as having to decide if they risk their safety to drive to Powell or they try to figure out how to vote in advance,” she said.

Voters can cast their ballot at the Park County courthouse starting Friday up until Nov. 2, but this was never mentioned during the meeting.

What was mentioned was the sense of joy and emotional reaction that many voters feel from casting their ballot in person.

“A lot of people enjoy having the opportunity to do that,” said South Fork resident Bob Ferguson, vice chairman of the Park County Republican Party.

Ferguson expressed the need for giving the opportunity to vote to as many people as possible and also criticized the reliability of mail-in voting because two major Postal Service labor unions have supported presidential candidate Joe Biden. Opening and altering a ballot is a felony.

Martin Kimmet, chairman of the Park County Republican Party, said he still makes voting decisions the week of the election, which eliminates mail-in voting as a viable option for him.

Needs and

requirements

Discussion also took place regarding the minimum number of judges needed per polling place, which was determined to be three. Judges must be trained before participating, which state law says must happen at least four days before the election. If three cannot be found and no alternates exist, the clerk may appoint a member of the public, but nothing is mentioned in the law about what to do if this person has not been trained.

Renner said multiple times in the meeting judges will not be guaranteed the right to work in their individual community. Alternates are informed at 5 a.m. election day if their help is needed.

About $60,000 had been cut from the election department budget this fiscal year and Renner said she will now spend about $30,000-$40,000 out of reserves in order to operate the polling places. CARES Act funding cannot apply to these costs as it is only eligible for costs exceeding those of prior years.

There will be 10 polling places in the county.

The Park County Fairgrounds, which has hosted two different polling sites in the past, will still stay at one just as it was for the primary.

There were a few local politicians at the meeting including State Senate candidate Tim French (Powell), State Rep. Dan Laursen (Powell), and Nina Webber (Cody) who ran for state house as a Republican in the primary but lost.

Laursen expressed enthusiasm for judging, but was informed he would be ineligible because his name is on the ballot. Commissioner Jake Fulkerson, who lost in the Republican primary and won’t be on the general ballot, said he will be judging.

“I challenge everybody to get signed up to be election judges,” he said.

(15) comments

Freecitizen

My mom always voted straight Republican ticket until the day she died. After that she voted solidly Democrat.

Freecitizen

DeweyV

I concure wholeheartedly about the falacy of reviewing voting rolls regularly. My mom voted solidly Republican until the day she died. Since then, she's voted solidly Democrat. I assure you, in Florida they really need her vote.

DeweyV

If only the rest of the Republican Party in America --- the other 99.997 percent of them ---cared as much about guaranteeing every person in every district was free and clear to vote without disenfranchisement large or small.

Unfortunately , the national GOP is pushing as hard as it can get away with the other way ... limiting the voting opportunity of select kinds and zip codes of voters .

Park County Wyoming sets a good example here ( or presumably will ) for polling places. The national news channels and mainstream media pundits ( especially of the redshifted right wing persuasion such as Fox News ) should be informed of this and amplify the actuality from coast to coast. Unfortunately the national Republican Party leadership will try to bury the notion and go back to their orchestrated gerrymandering, their war on postal mail balloting, their interference or outright blocking of poor people and minorities from voting because of imaginary voter fraud concerns.

Who do we know at Fox news that will report on Park County Wyoming for the rest of the nation to see ?

Jim Jones

Here goes Dewey, conflating in person voting with absentee voting with mail-in voting. His lack of truthfulness is astounding. The GOP is for voting in person, the more locations the better. It is for absentee voting where voters request an absentee ballot in writing, signature required. It is against ballots being send to every address without request.

Why does Dewey think Democrats are too stupid to sign a form and request an absentee ballot via return mail? Maybe Dewey can tell us which Democrats are incapable of signing their names on a form and mailing it. White Democrats, black Democrats, Hispanic Democrats, rich Democrats, poor Democrats or all of them?

DeweyV

JJones--- do you know how tor ead, let alone comprehend ? You remind me of a lot of crude rude dude horses I was forced to come to terms with. Horses that were just barely smart enough to get into trouble or start "argument" , but not smart enough to get out of them. They also had a predisposition to try to eat the weeds along the trail. Off in the weeds when they should be making trail.

Read what I write, please. Quit trying to do my thinking for me. Stay on topic if that is not asking too much...

DeweyV

It sure doesn't take much of a pull to yank these wags' chains, does it ?

Jim Jones

Elected officials knowingly choosing to ignore the law until their feet are held to the fire. Alex, I'll take "What do New York, Los Angeles and Cody Have in Common?" for $400.

DeweyV

Zero facemasks worn in the confined room . Is this photo possibly miscaptioned as a Trump Rally ?

Jim Jones

You can tell it's a Trump Rally and not a Biden Rally because people actually showed up.

Sully53

You should have been there Dewey. It looks like about 35 people there so you can surely tell it wasn't a Biden rally. Biden doesn't get that many people at his rallies.

Booneyrat

Biden doesn't lie to the American people like the so called commander in chief does on a daily basis...either. Or denigrate veterans.

Jim Jones

If we keep this up, we might get lucky. Dewey may never leave his house!

Sully53

Booneyrat I don't even know where to start with your Biden doesn't lie statement. How about when he said 150,000,000 people have died in this country from gun violence since 2007.?How about when he said 120,000,000 people have died from covid-19? How about when he said 116,000 military people have had covid-19 and 6,400 have died from it? The actual numbers are 40,000 cases and 7 deaths. How about when Biden said he has 2 degrees and he finished top 5 in his college class? He doesn't have 2 degrees and he finished about 10 from the bottom of his class. How about when he said he talked with Margaret Thatcher and she said she didn't like Trump? Margaret Thatcher died in 2013. How about when he said he predicted 9/11? I could go on but you get the idea.

Whatsup

She was worried about social distancing and there was not one mask-like do we said more than that combined space at the auditorium but it's our lawmakers they do what they want to do even though it's against the law

Whatsup

Dewey you should know it's easier to ask for forgiveness than it is for permission

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