Mail voting mask

We want to praise the people of Sweetwater County who voted in the 2020 primary election. No matter who you voted for, we salute those who engaged in the process. Everyone has an opinion, but not everyone takes the steps to be registered and be counted. This requires something extra, and we’re thankful for those who demonstrate it.

We also wish to recognize those who cast absentee ballots. That also requires additional effort. An extra phone call, mailed inquiry, in-person meeting or online submission was necessary to get a ballot. Absentee voters must provide their full name; date of birth; current Wyoming resident including house number, street, city, county and ZIP code; mailing address; elections for which the ballots are requested; registered political party if voting in a primary; and a statement that one is eligible to vote in the elections. Wyoming residents do not have to give a reason why they are voting absentee.

Voters then either posted letters in the mail early enough to be received by Aug. 11, dropped ballots in the box stationed outside the Sweetwater County Courthouse, or even visited the Sweetwater County Clerk’s Office to directly deliver their choices.

Safeguards are in place to make sure no one steals another’s vote. The county only sends out ballots if requested, and information is double-checked to make sure applicants are qualified electors. Reviews are regularly done of voter rolls, such as comparisons against deaths reported by the Wyoming Department of Health. County staff watch for irregularities and are prepared to send cases to the Sweetwater County Attorney’s Office for review and possible prosecution.

According to official Sweetwater County primary election results, 7,900 ballots were cast, which included 5,256 Republican ballots, 2,323 Democratic ballots, and 321 nonpartisan ballots. On election night, county officials said about 3,400 ballots, or not quite half, were absentee ballots. Usually, there are roughly 1,800 absentee ballots.

We’re glad so many people took advantage of the options available – in person and at a distance. It’s important that people feel free and safe to exercise their electoral rights. We hope more vote in the general election.

There’s still time to review candidates and options before the November election. People should ask questions about the people and processes that are best for them.

Schedule and health concerns are common. With fewer voting places than in the past, some may be worried about the time spent in line or exposure to others when we’re encouraged to practice distancing to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Others may simply want to get their vote cast and out of the way.

Even if people expect to be free on Nov. 3 and not have any medical considerations, we encourage them to consider casting a vote in advance. It should reduce the workload and stress of poll workers and decrease the time spent and anxiety of those waiting to vote.

Planning to vote early can also serve as incentive to dig into the issues and candidates. Instead of putting off your research until the weekend or morning before, absentee voting pushes us to set aside time to cast an informed ballot. With the increase in early voting in mind, the Rocket Miner’s general election guide is set to be published on Oct. 3, giving people plenty of time to prepare themselves and their ballots.

Elections send signals, winners set agendas, but it all starts with the voters. Those who don’t engage leave the big decisions to others.

American democracy is meant to give “the people” a say. It’s part of the foundation of our nation, and it’s regrettable that we don’t see higher participation. Past generations fought to ensure, expand and protect the vote. We can show our thanks by forgetting it or taking it for granted.

And while we’re talking about thankfulness, we need to give credit to the hardworking people – county staff and volunteers – who delivered a smooth election. They handled an untold number of questions and challenges with skill and grace, and they should be lauded.

The coronavirus has complicated things, but we don’t have to choose between our ballot and our health or the health of others around us thanks to these dedicated public servants.

For more election information, visit www.sweet.wy.us/departments/county_clerk, call the Sweetwater County Clerk’s Office at 307-872-3733, mail an inquiry to 80 W. Flaming Gorge Way, Suite 155, Green River, WY 82935; or visit the county courthouse.

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