Natrona County Commission Approves Voting Venue Changes
The Natrona County Commission on Tuesday approved the county clerk's plan to consolidate the most of the polling places to two large venues.
"This is new," County Clerk Renea Vitto said.
"I would hope people would give it a try," Vitto said.
The county clerk, who has the authority by law to designate polling places, told commissioners she has heard voters' complaints for years about the hassles at some schools including parking, access for the handicapped, and even basketballs bouncing through the voting areas.
Many of these problems posed violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act and provisions of the Help America Vote Act, Vitto said.
Even a liaison from the Natrona County School District tasked to look at the problem concluded that most schools were not conducive to voting, Vitto said.
So she determined the best solution was to have most voters in Wards I and II vote at the Industrial Building at the Natrona County Fairgrounds and have most voters in Ward III vote at the Restoration Church at 411 S. Walsh Drive, she said. Seven precincts within the city will not change, nor will polling places outside city limits. Vitto said her office will continue to encourage absentee voting at the old courthouse. Residents can find out where they should vote at the elections division website.
Removing polling places from the schools would enhance students' safety in case of a lockdown, she added.
Vitto asked the commissioners to adopt a resolution formally approving her decision.
Commissioner Rob Hendry said people like their local polling places, but Vitto's proposal makes sense. "This is not going to take away any rights."
But Commissioner Matt Keating did not like moving voting out of the schools nor the county clerk's authority to designate polling places. He was the only commissioner to vote against the resolution.
During the public hearing, Ward III resident Holly Thompson told commissioners that as a former teacher she understood Vitto's reasoning for the new polling places.
However, Thompson hoped the problems of long lines during the smoking referendum Nov. 3 could be resolved before the Aug. 16 primary.
She also said the county should conduct elections in either public buildings or commercial businesses and not churches. Churches have the right to their views on gambling, abortion, marriage equality and other issues, Thompson said. But they should not be in a position of influence, calling it an "intimidation factor," during the secular act of voting, she said.
In other business, the commission reconsidered two liquor license applications it had tabled in February.
The commission approved the CC Cowboys, also known as Rack's Gentlemen's Club, because it had taken care of sales tax and paperwork issues.
But it the restaurant liquor license to Casper Mountain Resort, LLC, doing business as Trailhead Lodge, because it still had not completed its application for renewal.