Early voter turnout before Tuesday's referendum has been smokin'.

"Last week in our office, absentee voting really started to pick up," Natrona County Clerk Renea Vitto said Monday morning.

Absentee voting ends at 5 p.m. today at the clerk's office in the old courthouse, 200 N. Center St., and Vitto expects to be busy through the afternoon.

"There could be close to a thousand absentee votes," Vitto said.

From what Vitto has seen and heard from absentee voters so far, she said the outcome could go either way for the long-disputed smoking issue that began in June 2012 when Casper City Council approved a total smoking ban in public buildings within city limits. A year later, council relaxed the total ban to allow smoking in bars and certain other places.

"It's really mixed," Vitto said. "It comes in waves."

Some voters have commented that a business owner should have the right to determine whether smoking is allowed in the owner's establishment, while others have wondered why smoking should be allowed at all in public buildings, Vitto said.

Tuesday, the polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m., she said.

The County Clerk's office has placed two polling places in each of the city's three wards instead of the usual nine per ward.

City residents 18 and older can vote at any of the polling places listed below.

To guard against fraud, each of the polling places will have a large printout of all the city's approximately 18,300 registered voters, Vitto said. And each voter must sign an affidavit swearing they have not voted at any other polling place, she said.

"That's the only way you can ensure that people don't go from place to place," Vitto said. "They could still do it, but then they'd have to end up lying under oath."

If caught, the voter's name would be turned over to the district attorney's office for prosecution, she said.

The ballot itself has only one question:

A vote "for" on the ballot means approving the 2013 city council ordinance -- nicknamed "Smoking Ban Light" -- that relaxed the strict 2012 ordinance -- nicknamed "Smoking Ban Fully Leaded" that banned smoking inside all public buildings within city limits.

A vote "against" means rejecting the 2013 ordinance and going back to the 2012 ordinance.

City Council voted Sept. 22 to send the issue to the voters for the referendum.

 

==========================

These are the six polling places for the smoking referendum on Tuesday:

  • Roosevelt High School Gym, 140 E. K St.
  • Central Wyoming Fairgrounds, Hall of Champions, 1700 Fairgrounds Road.
  • Senior Citizens' Center, activities room, 1831 E. Fourth St.
  • Restoration Church, 411 S. Walsh Drive.
  • Casper Shrine Club, 1501 W. 39th St.
  • Community Health Center, second floor, 5000 Blackmore Drive.