Early voting under way in Wyoming

Sep 27, 2012 MCT News Service

CHEYENNE --Already made your presidential and other election picks? Then why wait until Nov. 6 to vote?

Voters have the option to cast their ballots early. Absentee voting in Wyoming began Thursday.

Because of the state's "no excuse" policy, residents do not need a reason to vote early.

Laramie County Clerk Debbye Lathrop said she predicts 25 to 30 percent of all voters will choose to vote by absentee ballot.

"It really is a nice convenience," she said, "especially if you want to just get it done while you are downtown or doing something like picking up your license plates."

In-person voting booths will be open at some county clerk offices around the state, and any clerk's office can provide an absentee ballot for a voter, either in person or by mail.

When requesting an absentee ballot, provide your name, residence address, mailing address, and birth date or Social Security number. Once election officials verify the information, a ballot will be sent in the mail.

Absentee ballots can be returned in person or by mail. They must be received by the county clerk by 7 p.m. on Election Day.

State Elections Director Peggy Nighswonger said the absentee option has become more popular in recent years.

She said Wyoming has allowed for absentee voting since 1931. But the state has only accepted absentee ballots without a reason since 1991.

Nighswonger said the policy is one of the reasons that Wyoming consistently sees relatively high voter turnout numbers.

"I really encourage people to use it," she said. "You never know when someone might get ill or if we'll get a bad snowstorm on the day of the election."

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Wyoming is among the 32 states that offer some type of early voting without needing a justification.

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