Voter turnout meager in primary elections
By Kevin Huelsmann, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
August 24, 2012
Less than a third of registered voters in Teton County showed up at the polls Tuesday to cast a ballot in the primary election.
With only two contested races on the ballot — both centered on the town of Jackson — residents who live in the unincorporated parts of the county seemed uninterested.
Most voters were focused on the race for town council and Wyoming House District 16. The state district is made up principally of Jackson residents.
That means voters who don’t live in town didn’t have a local race to interest them. The lack of contested races on the ballot this year was likely to blame for the low turnout, County Clerk Sherry Daigle said.
“For Teton County, that was really low,” Daigle said Wednesday of the turnout.
Tuesday saw 3,234 county citizens cast ballots, 30.3 percent of the 10,666 registered voters.
Breaking down the statistics, Daigle found a much smaller percentage of residents who live in the unincorporated parts of the county cast ballots.
There are 6,801 registered voters in the unincorporated parts of Teton County. Only 1,706 of those voters cast a ballot, or 26 percent. In comparison, 1,528 town residents voted out of 3,865 registered voters, or 40 percent.
The problem, Daigle said, is that there were races for U.S. House and U.S. Senate that many people missed.
“Just because the president isn’t on the primary, it doesn’t mean there aren’t other important federal races,” Daigle said.
Town residents trimmed the field of eight council candidates in half. Residents who live within House District 16 and voted in the Republican primary picked Ruth Ann Petroff over Bob Biolchini.
Residents who voted in the partisan county commissioner primaries didn’t affect the field — all four candidates advanced.
More Republicans cast votes in the primary than did Democrats.
Forty-two percent of registered Republicans showed up at the polls; 28 percent of registered Democrats cast a ballot.
Without many Democratic candidates, some county residents will switch parties to weigh in on Repub-lican-dominated races. It’s difficult to track how many residents switch parties for the primary, Daigle said.