Polling places

Voters cast their ballots at the Old Wilson Schoolhouse Community Center during the 2018 Wyoming primary election. The center will likely be one of three polling places open during the 2020 primary. Polling places in Alta and Hoback may have to close because of social distancing requirements.

Two far-flung vote centers — the Teton County Weed and Pest District building and Teton County Library’s Alta Branch — may not open for the primary election in August.

The reason, unsurprisingly, is the COVID-19 pandemic.

The voter centers “did not have sufficient floor space to accommodate social distancing protocols,” Elections Deputy Clerk Kellie Dickerson said during a Tuesday meeting.

Teton County Clerk Sherry Daigle said the decision is not necessarily final — a lot could change between now and August — but for now it looks like the two locations will be closed.

“If things continue the way they are,” Daigle said, “we will not be able to use those two vote centers for the primary.”

Wyoming Secretary of State Edward Buchanan issued a directive May 1 requiring polling places to be large enough for social distancing. The Weed and Pest building, which is located near Jackson’s WYDOT complex on South Highway 89, and the library’s Alta Branch were deemed too small.

Daigle said residents of Alta and Hoback who are primarily served by those vote centers hadn’t yet been notified because the direction had come down only a few days before.

The tentative plan for the Aug. 18 primary is to open three large vote centers where social distancing is possible: the Teton County/Jackson Parks and Recreation Center, the library’s Jackson Branch and the Old Wilson Schoolhouse Community Center.

Dickerson and Daigle said there are other options for Alta and Hoback residents who don’t want to drive to town to vote, and more may be on the table.

Absentee voting is one option that will be available. Voters can contact the elections office by email (elections@tetoncountywy.gov) or phone (733-4430) to receive a mail-in ballot. Those who choose to vote by mail must get their ballot to the clerk’s office by the close of polls on election day.

An in-person absentee voting center will also be set up for 45 days before the election at the Teton County Administration Building, 200 S. Willow St.

And the clerk’s office is working with the secretary of state to set up drop boxes for absentee ballots in the Hoback and Alta areas.

A few years ago, safety concerns led the county to move the Alta voting centers out of the elementary school there. Officials are looking into moving back, but nothing is certain.

“The secretary of state’s office has been in conversation with the superintendent of public instruction regarding the possible use of schools,” Daigle said.

Contact Billy Arnold at 732-7063 or barnold@jhnewsandguide.com.

Teton County Reporter

Previously the Scene editor, Billy Arnold made the switch to the county beat where he's interested in exploring Teton County as a model for the rest of the West. When he can, he still writes about art, music and whatever else suits his fancy.

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