Teton County Elections Senior Deputy Clerk Kellie Dickerson said she has seen more absentee ballot requests this year than ever before as a result of the behavior-changing COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’ve roughly already gotten back about 1,000 absentee ballots,” she told the News&Guide.
Those 1,000 or so ballots are only a portion of the total of absentee ballots that have been requested this year. Teton County Board of County Commissioners Chairwoman Natalia D. Macker said during the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce’s July Business over Breakfast that over 2,500 ballots had been requested — and that was over a month ago. In 2016, by contrast, the county mailed 389, Macker said. In 2018 it was 450.
Despite the unprecedented numbers, Dickerson is confident that results will come in on time.
Less than one week remains until the Aug. 18 primary election, and, despite the changes made to protect the health of in-person voters, the elections clerk is planning for a relatively normal voting process. In recent weeks she and elected officials have encouraged people to vote absentee-by-mail, or at least early at the absentee polling place in the Teton County Administration Building at 200 S. Willow Street.
“We’re encouraging [absentee-by-mail voting] just so we don’t have as many people at the polls on Election Day,” Dickerson said. “We’re just trying to spread everybody out as much as possible.”
It’s important, Dickerson said, for people mailing absentee ballots to send them as soon as possible, because any ballots not received by the elections office by 7 p.m. Aug. 18 for the primary election will not be counted.
On Election Day anyone in line at 7 p.m. at one of the three voting centers will have the chance to vote. Dickerson said things may be a little slower than usual for in-person voters: “We will have quite a bit more focus on cleaning and social distancing, so we are expecting a little slower of a process.”
While it’s too late to request an absentee ballot by mail, you can still vote absentee in person from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at the absentee polling station until Aug. 17.
— Billy Arnold and Timothy J. Woods contributed.