Early voting

John De Neufville feeds his ballot into a voting machine in early November at the Teton County Clerk’s Office. The Wyoming Legislature is considering two bills that could change the state’s electoral systems and more legislation about absentee voting could be on the way.

The Wyoming Legislature is considering a voter ID law, and the majority of Teton County’s delegation is confident it will pass.

They also believe more bills seeking to change election systems are coming.

Rep. Mike Yin, D-Jackson, moderated Wednesday’s all-day legislative update, in which he and Teton County’s other representatives and senators chatted with local officials, business leaders and citizens about the state of the ongoing legislative session. They talked about taxes, school funding, state school trust lands in Teton County and more.

But when it came to discussing proposed changes to the state’s election system, Democrats Rep. Andy Schwartz and Sen. Mike Gierau were dismayed.

“I know virtually every county clerk and election officer in the state of Wyoming,” Gierau said, “and I happen to know for a fact that they would rather lose an arm than run a bad election. It’s just absolutely incredible to me that this would even come up.

“But it will,” he said, “and it will pass.”

Schwartz said he thought the measure proposed could make voting “difficult.”

If the voter ID bill passes, as Gierau said, Wyoming will become one of only a handful of states to require photo identification to cast a ballot. The other states are Wisconsin, Kansas, Indiana, Tennessee, Mississippi and Georgia.

As in most of those states, the Wyoming bill would allow people without acceptable ID to vote on a provisional ballot and return in following days to provide identification.

Acceptable IDs would include a Wyoming driver’s license, a state or tribal identification card, a U.S. passport or military card, or a valid Medicare insurance card.

Proponents of voter ID laws claim they are a way to prevent in-person voter fraud and increase election confidence per the National Conference on State Legislatures. Opponents maintain that little fraud of that kind occurs and that requiring photo identification restricts voters’ rights to cast their ballots.

The voter ID law has enough co-sponsors to pass as is: 41 members in the House, and 15 in the Senate.

Yin said other election-related bills should be expected, and a handful are already working their way through the Legislature. One moving through the Senate Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee would have Wyomingites elect the attorney general, currently an appointed position.

Another bill, introduced by Sen. Anthony Bouchard, a Goshen and Laramie County Republican who intends to challenge Republican Liz Cheney for her seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, would see voters pick the state health officer, also currently an appointee.

But more bills may be coming down the pipeline specifically relating to how people vote.

The Wyoming Republican Party passed a resolution Feb. 6 encouraging legislators and state election officials to restrict access to absentee voting, among other things.

It called for limiting absentee voting to members of the U.S. military who are deployed elsewhere and those with “valid” excuses for being unable to vote in person.

The resolution also called for banning mail-in ballots, curbside voting and ballot drop boxes.

Teton County voters had access to all of those options last November, when they cast 12,071 early and absentee ballots. That was 82% of all ballots cast in Jackson Hole.

Teton County GOP Chairman Alex Muromcew said the local delegation to the party’s Feb. 6 central committee meeting voted against the resolution.

Republican Mary Martin, who joined Muromcew there, confirmed that she did so. She supports absentee voting.

“I really want our voting to be open and transparent and fair,” Martin said. “But I don’t want to make it difficult for people to vote.”

Teton County Clerk Maureen Murphy pushed back against the GOP’s letter Wednesday.

“I agree 100% with you, Senator Gierau, that every clerk holds their integrity to the highest and would cut off our arms before we ran an unfair election,” she said. “It’s quite frustrating.”

Former President Donald Trump made repeated unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud after he lost the November election to Joe Biden, who was inaugurated January 20.

Only 32% of Republicans believe the election was free and fair, according to polling by Morning Consult. That’s compared to 92% of Democrats, and 65% of Americans overall.

Federal election officials have said the general election was the “most secure” in history.

Former U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr said the Justice Department found no evidence of fraud “on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”

Contact Billy Arnold at 732-7063 or barnold@jhnewsandguide.com.

Teton County Reporter

Previously the Scene editor, Billy Arnold made the switch to the county beat where he's interested in exploring Teton County as a model for the rest of the West. When he can, he still writes about art, music and whatever else suits his fancy.

Recommended for you

(2) comments

Judd Grossman

Voter ID makes sense. We don't want people to vote twice, or to vote if they aren't eligible. Doesn't seem like to too high a bar to show ID.

The phrase "unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud" is biased. "claims of alleged voter fraud" wold have been better. I suspect that the author of this article hasn't personally debunked all the claims of voter fraud, so "reportedly unsubstantiated claims" would have been an appropriate wording. To have the "narrator" insert himself into the story and declare the "truth" is part of the Orwellian media bias that we are currently living under. A true service to the public would be if journalists delved into the claims of voter fraud and objectively investigated them, so that the 35% of the public who is still unconvinced that the elections was handled correctly could have their worries assuaged. Next best thing is to institute rock solid security and transparency measures in the voting system, so that it's obvious to all that the vote is fair. Voter ID is a good start.

bob culver

Judd,

Very good analysis and observations. With a secure voter system, including Voter ID, we approach 100% assurance of those eligible to vote have a chance to do so - and that those who are NOT eligible to vote are cleared out of the system. There is also more to be done to control ballot access, such as the universal mail out ballot issue, and more.

Your comment rightfully continues to point out problems with the "News" today. It is strongly biased by small, sometimes unnoticed but still effective, wording to redirect the understanding of the news stories and incite a reaction in the public. A recent investigation of news reporting in the last election cycle reveals that stories, and even unreported events, have distorted voter impression and effected voter choice and turnout. A remarkable number of the population (near 17%) now have "voters remorse", a strong feeling that they chose the wrong candidate based on that false data. See the upcoming Friday, Hole In One news letter, for more information.

Bob Culver - JHTP

Welcome to the discussion.

Please note: Online comments may also run in our print publications.
Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Please turn off your CAPS LOCK.
No personal attacks. Discuss issues & opinions rather than denigrating someone with an opposing view.
No political attacks. Refrain from using negative slang when identifying political parties.
Be truthful. Don’t knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be proactive. Use the “Report” link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with us. We’d love to hear eyewitness accounts or history behind an article.
Use your real name: Anonymous commenting is not allowed.
.
The News&Guide welcomes comments from our paid subscribers. Tell us what you think. Thanks for engaging in the conversation!

Thank you for reading!

Please log in, or sign up for a new account and purchase a subscription to read or post comments.