Voter turnout last week reached a historic high in one Wyoming county – where 100 percent of registered voters cast a ballot in the general election.
“I think everyone was wanting to get out and vote and voice their opinion,” said Jane Carr, deputy county clerk in Johnson County, Wyo. “I just think it’s great.”
Technically, Johnson County saw a turnout above 100 percent – there were 4,402 registered voters going into Election Day, and 4,485 people cast a vote, thanks to Wyoming’s same-day registration laws.
Carr said she could tell there was an extra excitement about this election because many people cast absentee ballots in the weeks leading up to it, including those who registered and voted at the same time.
Extraordinary voter turnout is the norm in Johnson County, though this year was higher than usual. County Clerk Vicki Edelman said during her six years on the job, she’s seen upwards of 92 and 93 percent turnout.
Edelman also pointed to her county’s election participation as an example, amid anti-Donald Trump protests involving some who reportedly did not vote last week.
“They really can’t complain if they did not participate in the voting. I would think they wouldn’t feel like they should complain,” said Edelman. “And from what I’m hearing on the news, a lot of those protesters did not vote.”
Johnson County, like the state of Wyoming, is heavily Republican. More than 77 percent of the vote last week went to Trump; in the local House race, 70 percent went to Liz Cheney, former Vice President Dick Cheney’s daughter. All the state legislator and county commissioner positions went to Republicans.
“It is very exciting and is an indication of the frustration and anger in Wyoming,” said state Sen. Dave Kinskey. “Especially rural Wyoming, with the hostility of the Obama administration and its war on agriculture and war on coal.”
U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., said he was “proud—but not surprised—by the overwhelming voter turnout in Johnson County.”
Johnson County has a population of just over 8,600 people, according to the local chamber of commerce. It sits just east of the Big Horn Mountains, and is known for its hunting, fishing, camping and mountain-climbing.
The state of Wyoming as a whole also set a voter turnout record, according to the secretary of state’s office.
Economic factors could be at play. The state’s economy runs on minerals, oil, gas and coal – but has been in a downturn for the last two years between oil prices falling below 30 dollars a barrel and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell putting a stop to new coal leases while the department reviews the federal coal program. Residents had concerns that if Hillary Clinton were elected president, many of the struggles facing the mineral industry would continue.