(Gillette, Wyo.) Every four years since 1976, Campbell County residents have voted to continue the optional one percent sales tax. Ahead of each election, a public survey is conducted to gain input as to where citizens would like to see the money spent, if it’s approved for another four years.
This year the survey is being administered by the Campbell County Chamber of Commerce and will be sent out to registered voters mid-month.
Brenda Kirk, communications and information manager for the chamber, said the 2018 survey is similar to those sent out in the past. The City of Gillette, Town of Wright and Campbell County compile a list of proposed projects to be funded by Penny Power. It’s then up to the registered voters to rate the projects in order of importance.
Then, when the three governing bodies go to spend those funds, they have a better idea of which projects are priorities.
“We are trying to encourage people to go out and get registered to vote,” said Kirk. “Because that’s where we’re pulling our addresses from.”
As of July 3, there are 18,830 registered voters in Campbell County. Since the survey won’t go out until mid-month, there’s still time to register to vote and participate in the one percent survey.
Kirk said the Chamber of Commerce has always sent the survey to registered voters. Although, in 2014, a different firm conducted the survey.
Registering to vote takes less than five minutes at Campbell County Courthouse elections office. However, Elections Clerk Kendra Anderson said that may change as absentee voting begins today. The only thing needed to register to vote is valid identification.
The U.S. Census Bureau estimates the population of Campbell County at 46,242 as of July of 2017. The same data concludes 27.8 percent of residents are under the age of 18. That brings the total voting age population to 33,387.
Based on those statistics, only 56 percent of the voting age population in Campbell County is registered to vote. Nationwide, voter turnout for the 2016 Presidential Election was 61.4 percent. Historically, voter turnout tends to be higher during presidential election years.
That is certainly true in Campbell County. In the 2014 general election, the last time the one percent was on the ballot, out of the 18,360 registered voters, 10,824 people cast ballots. Compared to 2016 when there were 14,849 registered voters and 18,351 people cast ballots. That means during the last presidential election, 3,502 people registered on Election Day.
There’s also a large discrepancy in the number of voters from year to year. That’s due to a state law that requires election clerks to keep their voter registration logs current. After each election, Anderson sends out registration postcards to every registered voter. If the voter does not return the postcard, or call the elections office to confirm their residence, that record is purged from the voter registration system.
In 2014 alone, 7,536 registered voters were purged from the system. At $0.35 per postcard, that brings the cost of the purge to $2,637.60 in postage alone. That does not include the cost of printing the postcards or staff wages.
The purge doesn’t preclude those voters from participating in the next election. It just means they will have to register all over again, which contributes to long lines and wait times at polling places on Election Day.
Registering to vote will not only ensure your participation in the optional one percent survey, it will also save you considerable time on Election Day, when lines to register to vote tend to back up.
Once registered, the duty of the voter is to stay informed, stay engaged and make your voice heard when it counts the most, on Election Day. Check out the County 17 Election 2018 tab for all articles relating to the upcoming election.
As a reminder, absentee voting begins today. In Campbell County especially, it’s important to participate in the Primary election, scheduled for August 21, since there are several partisan races with only Republican candidates. The purpose of the Primary election is to narrow down each field to one candidate from each political party. That means a lot of races will be decided in August, rather than November.
When you register to vote, it’s also a good time to determine who represents you based on where you live. Click here to view a map of Gillette’s City Council Wards. The State of Wyoming website also offers tools to find your State Representatives and Senators. Click here to see the full list of candidates available for the August 21 Primary from the state to city races.