Midterm primary draws unexpected turnout

August 22, 2018

Voting in Tuesday’s primary election eclipsed the last midterm primary by almost 10 percent.

At the end of the night voter turnout totaled 43.73 percent of registered voters. In 2014 the percentage of registered voters who voted in the midterm primary was 34.05. Write-in and absentee ballots totaled only about 11 percent of voters, so the high overall turnout came as somewhat of a surprise, especially for a midterm election.

“Forty percent is huge,” said Kellie Dickerson, the elections and marriages deputy clerk at the Teton County Clerk’s Office.

They expected closer to 20 or 25 percent, she said.

The number of Republican ballots cast was more than twice as many as those who voted on the Democrat ticket.

“I think that there were some Democrats that crossed over,” said Sherry Daigle, the Teton County clerk, meaning voters who usually register as Democrats but changed their party affiliation on Election Day so they could vote for a Republican candidate.

Last-minute changes in registration were probably for the Wyoming governor’s race, because that was the only contested Republican item on the ballot, Daigle said.

“That would be my guess,” she said.

The contested Democratic county commissioner race may have also factored in to the high turnout, Daigle said.

Technical difficulties at the county clerk’s office started the night slowly. The first results didn’t come in until about 7:50 p.m. From there things snowballed, with ballots from all the voting centers besides Alta uploaded within the next half-hour.

As each wave of updates came up on the screen, conversation in the county chambers hushed. Daigle stood beside her husband, holding a grapefruit La Croix and watching the results roll across the screen. Her bid for another term as Teton County clerk will be decided in this election, though she is unopposed. A write-in candidate for her office or any other uncontested race would need 25 legible write-in votes to advance to the general election.

By 8:40 p.m. the small crowd in the chambers breathed a collective sigh of relief and then dwindled further. Even though the results from Alta hadn’t come in yet, the handful of votes rarely changes the overall outcome.

“Now we just get to wait for Eddie to drive over the Pass,” Daigle said, indicating the ballots coming from Alta.

The final number of voters in yesterday’s primary was exactly 6,000 people.

“Wow, talk about an even number; that’s scary,” Daigle said.

About 1,582 people voted before Election Day, according to the Teton County Clerk’s Office.

That’s about 11.5 percent of the total 13,720 total registered voters. Of the 6,000 total ballots cast in the primary, 26.3 percent were cast early or absentee.

In the 2014 primary 4,270 total ballots were cast.

More Republicans voted in the 2014 primary as well, but only about 50 percent more compared with approximately 130 percent more this year.

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