by nathan oster
The Big Horn County Clerk’s office has yet to finish processing new voter registrations, but preliminary data suggests that the turnout for the Aug. 21 primary election lagged far behind the turnout for the primary of 2010.
Back then, with several spirited races at the state and county level appearing on the ballot, 72 percent of the county’s registered voters on the day of the election went to the pools. In terms of numbers, 4,017 votes were cast.
The 2012 primary was a midterm, of sorts, and the 59 percent turnout was a reflection of that. The only county seat on the ballot was a spot on the Big Horn County Commission. In addition, voters cast ballots in municipal races as well as for state and federal legislative seats.
Clerk Dori Noyes said on Monday that her office had not completed the process of entering new voter registrations, but that a canvas of the county’s precincts showed that 2,940 votes were cast. Going into the election, there were 4,975 registered voters in Big Horn County.
According to Noyes, Republican voters cast 2,685 ballots, Democratic voters 202 and nonpartisan voters 53, for the 2,940 total.
Among precincts, Burlington had the top turnout, with 69 percent of registered voters going to the poll. Emblem, at 68 percent, ranked second, while Byron, at 67 percent, came in third among all precincts.
Greybull, with 55 percent, and Shell, with 52 percent, had the lowest turnouts for the primary.
Statewide numbers were even more bleak, according to a release from the office of Secretary of State Max Maxfield.
“Based on unofficial results from the county clerks, voter turnout for the primary election was just under 50 percent of those who are registered to vote, and only 25 per cent of those eligible to vote,” said Peggy Nighswonger, the state election director.
According to Nighswonger, “this level of voter participation is one of the lowest in the last 30 years.”