Natrona County Clerk: North Casper Gets Its Polling Place Back
Residents of north Casper will no longer need to go to the Natrona County Fairgrounds to cast their ballots, the County Clerk said Tuesday.
"I truly had been looking for some place that would be a good place for them," Clerk Renea Vitto said at the Natrona County Commission's regular meeting.
Beginning with the Aug. 21 primary, north Casper residents will have their polling places closer to where they live, Vitto said.
Wyoming law allows county clerks to set and change polling places without the approval of county commissions, but the clerks need to explain the changes to commissioners.
Vitto had to do that in 2016 after problems with polling places in the schools within Casper city limits.
For years, her office heard complaints about crowds, lack of parking, construction, changing polling places within the buildings, lack of access required by the Americans with Disabilities Act, propped-open doors for polling places in November, and safety issues with possible lockdowns during emergencies.
Some voters even told her they were interrupted by basketballs bouncing through gyms where voting booths were set up, she said.
So Vitto resolved some of the problems by consolidating 14 polling places at the Industrial Building at the Fairgrounds and consolidating six polling places at Restoration Church, 411 S. Walsh Drive.
But that drew some sharp criticisms from people who lived in north Casper, especially among the elderly, handicapped or those unable to get rides to the Fairgrounds, she said. Likewise, others said they would miss going to their neighborhood schools.
But after some recent negotiating, 560 registered voters in north Casper will be able to vote closer to home, Vitto said.
In north Casper, voters could no longer vote at the Roosevelt High School when the school district closed it, she said.
But the Casper Housing Authority bought it and is rehabilitating it to become The Landing, which is intended to have transitional housing for homeless veterans, a clinic, a training facility and a garden.
Vitto called the Housing Authority, which welcomed the opportunity to host a polling place, she said. "As they said, 'that's their purpose -- a community center.'"
She also announced a change for some voters in Mills who have been voting at the Mountain View Elementary School. The Natrona County School District voted to close the school in October, which will become effective this summer.
Vitto said those voters will be moved to the Mills Community Center, 401 S. Watsatch. The community center became the designated polling place for people who voted at the Mills Elementary School before it closed, she added.
"It's going to be a big enough facility to have good parking," Vitto said.
The voters affected by the changes will be notified by July 1. If those voters decide the new places aren't good moves for them, they will be able to apply for absentee ballots, Vitto said.