As primary election results poured in late Tuesday night, the seesaw battle in the secretary of state race became the main event. Ed Murray and Ed Buchanan hovered at 36 percent of the vote, trading the lead throughout the night. One cloud loomed over the race until the bitter end. Laramie County, Murray’s home turf, had yet to report the entirety of its results with more than 80 percent of the state’s precincts reporting. The time it took to get the results from Laramie County, while adding drama to the race, left many in the age of instant gratification wondering what took so long. Laramie County Clerk Debbye Balcaen Lathrop said there were no issues in reporting the vote. “If people had any kind of memory, they would know that we finished last night about the same time we did in the primary two years ago and four years ago,” she said. “The reason the focus was on Laramie County last night is people knew that our results would change the secretary of state’s race.”
Peggy Nighswonger, elections division director at the Wyoming Secretary of State’s Office, said the main difference in Laramie County is its electronic voting system. In Wyoming, counties can use an optical scanner to scan paper ballots or poll voters via a touch-screen electronic device. Laramie County is the only county in the state to use an entirely touch-screen system.
“With the touch screens, you have to upload individual memory cards to get your results from each piece of equipment,” Nighswonger said. “That process might take a little longer. The touch screens are better on the front end of the election process, but I think the process of getting the results can be a little slower than the optical scan.”