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Wyoming Sees Highest Primary Voter Turnout Ever For Election Year In 2020

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming had one of its highest-ever voter turnouts for a primary election this year, Secretary of State Ed Buchanan announced Thursday.

The primary election on Aug. 18 saw 140,042 ballots cast, 62% (86,441 votes) of which were cast at the polls on Election Day or by in-person absentee ballots. The rest of the votes were cast absentee by mail.

The number of votes cast in the primary is a record for the state in a presidential election year. The only time the number has been exceeded was in the mid-term primary election of 1994.

“The 2020 election was remarkable in many ways, but this election had the highest turnout for a primary in a presidential election year ever, and that is truly notable,” Buchanan said in a news release. “I have my staff and every county clerk across Wyoming to thank for a record-breaking turnout, and for the safety and security of our voting process.

“We made polling places safe and worked hard to inform voters about the security and safety of Wyoming’s voting process,” he continued. “Voters listened and proved that even when times are tough perhaps especially when times are tough – Wyoming votes.”

The State Canvassing Board is comprised of: Gov. Mark Gordon, Buchanan (chair), State Auditor Kristi Racines and State Treasurer Curt Meier.

The board met Wednesday to review the results of state-level races across Wyoming and certify winning candidates to be placed on the 2020 Nov. 3 general election ballot.

“The roll out of new election equipment across Wyoming and in every county was smooth and a great success for voters.  Wyoming voters were clearly not deterred by COVID-19 and turned out to cast their ballots using Wyoming’s election system which is safe and secure from end-to-end. Absentee voting begins for the general on September 18th, and we hope to see turnout just as strong as the primary,” said State Election Director Kai Schon in the news release.

Cowboy State Daily reported earlier this month figures from the secretary of state’s office showed that 139,950 ballots were cast during the primary, compared to 114,000 ballots cast during the primary election of 2016, another presidential election year.

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139,950 Ballots Cast In Wyoming Primary Tuesday, More Than 2016

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By Jim Angell and Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

Voter turnout for Wyoming’s primary election on Tuesday was higher than that seen for other primary elections recently, a state official said Wednesday.

Figures from the secretary of state’s office showed that 139,950 ballots were cast during Tuesday’s primary, compared to 114,000 ballots cast during the primary election of 2016, another presidential election year when the state’s top five elected offices were not at stake.

“I think it’s fair to say that based on the turnout of 2016 that turnout Tuesday was very robust and we are very pleased with that turnout,” said Will Dineen, a spokesman for the secretary of state’s office.

In the primary election of 2018, when the state’s top five elected offices were on the ballot, about 150 fewer votes were cast than this year at 139,809.

“With no statewide elected offices on the ballot, this is a great turnout,” Dineen said.

The state’s turnout level was similar to that seen in Park County, where Park County Clerk Coleen Renner said the 8,807 ballots cast Tuesday was a gain over 2016.

“I’m going to say we’re probably about 1,000 voters higher than we were at the last presidential,” she said.

Dineen said he believed efforts by the secretary of state’s office to educate voters on how and where they could vote during the coronavirus pandemic helped draw people to the polls, as did the candidates in primary races.

The majority of votes cast statewide in Tuesday’s election, 78.9%, were cast in Republican primaries. In Park County, the number was 88%.

Dineen said the number of absentee ballots cast was not as high as some had expected.

“The majority of those who turned out turned out at the polls on election day,” he said. “The prognosticators said it would be more of an absentee-based election, but I think people turned out at the polls.”

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Wyoming Officials Speak Out Against Trump’s Proposed Election Delay

in elections/News/politics
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

President Donald Trump’s recent suggestion that the United States delay the Nov. 3 general election received much pushback from various legislators, including several of Wyoming’s elected representatives.

On Thursday, Trump tweeted that universal mail-in voting would cause widespread inaccuracies and an uptick in voter fraud. To not cause a “great embarrassment” to the United States, Trump suggested delaying the election until people could “properly, securely and safely vote.”

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney tweeted her thoughts on the president’s suggestion, saying lawmakers wouldn’t take any action to delay the election.

“The resistance to this idea among Republicans is overwhelming,” she wrote. “We must take all necessary steps to prevent election fraud – including stopping Democrat ballot harvesting – but we will not be delaying the election.”

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso sided with Cheney when he spoke to Fox Business Network in an interview.

“No, we are not going to delay the election,” Barrasso said. “We’re going to have the election completed and voting completed by Election Day.”

State Rep. Landon Brown, R-Cheyenne said on his Facebook page that he also didn’t support a delay.

“Stop with this nonsense and govern,” the Republican representative wrote.

Other national politicians who rejected Trump’s idea included Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Chuck Grassley.

The president also wrote on Thursday that mail-in voting was “already proving to be a catastrophic disaster,” saying mail-in voting was an easy way for foreign countries to influence the election. He also was concerned about inaccurate vote counts.

Trump touched on New York’s mail-in voting system earlier this week, saying it was “in a disastrous state of condition” and alleging the election was rigged.

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Republican Wyoming Senate Candidates Tackle Pandemic, Taxes, Tribal Rights In Tuesday Debate

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Republican candidates for one of Wyoming’s U.S. Senate seats discussed issues ranging from the destruction of Confederate monuments and immigration reform to stimulus packages during their first debate Tuesday night.

Nine of the 10 Republican candidates eyeing the U.S. Senate seat now held by U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi gathered in Sheridan for the debate, held just one month before Wyoming’s primary election.

Former U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis of Cheyenne, Michael Kemler of Lander, R. Mark Armstrong of Centennial, Star Roselli of Arizona, Josh Wheeler of Casper, Bryan Miller of Sheridan, Donna Rice of Casper, Robert Short of Douglas and John Holtz of Laramie participated in the debate at Sheridan College. The nine candidates were split into two groups for the event, with Lummis, Wheeler, Rice, Miller and Kemler facing off for the first round and Roselli, Holtz, Short and Armstrong making up the roster for the second.

During the first round, Lummis stated her opposition to the destruction of monuments seen around the country.

“We need to respect our history,” she said. “If we forget our history, we’re bound to repeat it.”

The candidates agreed with each other more often than not on issues such as their support for a more secure border and their disapproval of the federal government bailing out states with coronavirus relief funds, although they usually had differing ideas on how to approach those issues in Congress.

“We need to have more of a defensive perimeter and have a proper barrier to keep people from coming in illegally,” Wheeler said. “I’d rather see see an immigration system that favors those who come here legally and not put them on a back burner.”

Areas where the candidates were split included the federal coronavirus relief legislation, which Lummis supported and Miller opposed, and their support for Dr. Anthony Fauci, a White House advisor on health issues who has taken center stage during the coronavirus pandemic.

“[Fauci] is a scientist, but he’s been wrong a lot,” Miller said. “The country, as a whole, is in worse shape for listening to someone we knew was wrong two weeks into the pandemic.”

During the second round, Holtz, Roselli, Short and Armstrong sparred over issues including the Centers for Disease Control, social media regulations and federal debt.

“The federal government is addicted to spending,” Armstrong said during the debt discussion. “We need to get away from baseline budgeting. We can’t keep letting the federal government just keep printing money.”

The candidates’ viewpoints differed wildly on the subject of Social Security, with Armstrong calling it a “huge burden,” while Roselli and Short argued its value to the country’s elderly. Holtz declared that taxing Social Security benefits was wrong, and once Congress eliminated the taxes on it, the benefits would be more clear.

One of the moderators had to interject about midway through the second debate, reminding the candidates to stay on topic.

During the second round, Roselli also touted a conspiracy theory that Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg (whom she mistakenly referred to as “Jeff”) is the grandson of David Rockefeller and that the Central Intelligence Agency provided funding for the social media website in its early days.

The only Republican candidate not to take part in the debate was Philadelphia resident Devon Cade.

Wyoming’s primary election is Aug. 18. A total of 16 people are running for U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi’s soon-to-be open seat, 10 Republicans and six Democrats.

Democrats on the primary ballot include former gubernatorial candidate Rex Wilde of Cheyenne, James Kirk DeBine of Evansville, Kenneth Casner of Elk Mountain, Merav Ben David of Laramie, Nathan Wendt of Jackson and Yana Ludwig of Laramie.

The Democratic Senate debate will be held Thursday night.

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Wyoming Bipartisanship on Display in Wall Street Journal

in elections/News/Legislature
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It’s one thing political observers say they don’t see much anymore: bipartisanship.

Judging by last year’s impeachment and even the reaction to this year’s coronavirus pandemic, it’s easy to agree with that assessment.

But one example of the two parties actually getting along occurred just last week in a Wyoming-focused video published on the Wall Street Journal.

The news story entitled “How Women in Wyoming Are Fighting to Boost Representation” touches on a story residents of Wyoming read a lot about last year with the 150th anniversary of women’s suffrage.

This story, however, takes a unique twist when following a Cheyenne Democrat, Brittney Wallesch, who has never run for office before and is challenging a Republican incumbent.

Wallesch is getting help from a Republican: former State Rep. Rosie Berger.

“You are a Republican. Brittney is a Democrat. Why are you, a Republican, helping a Democrat?” asked Journal reporter Shelby Holliday.

“Because I want commonsense, capable individuals who love their state to represent our people and to get the work done,” Berger said.  

“Brittney brings another perspective to the table. She brings a young perspective to the table,” she said.

Berger added that the decline in both the number of women and Democrats in the Legislature is “not healthy for any institution.”

More than a decade ago, Berger founded the“Leap Into Leadership” program — an organization which helps female candidates run for office. 

You’ll see bipartisanship here as well as this year’s conference was co-chaired by a bipartisan trio: Republican lawmakers Sen. Affie Ellis and Rep. Sue Wilson, both of Cheyenne, and Democrat Rep. Cathy Connolly of Laramie.

As for the 11 1/2 minute news clip, Wallesch put the video on her Facebook page and is, by far, the most popular post she’s added.

Regardless, what candidate — especially a Democratic candidate in a red, red state — wouldn’t love to have a positive, bipartisan Wall Street Journal video introduce people to his or her campaign?

Whether Wallesch wins or not, it’s a heck of a way to launch a campaign.

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