Two bills that would have placed additional restrictions on the voting process in Wyoming failed before the Wyoming Legislature’s Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions committee at a meeting Monday in Jackson.
The first would have required voters to present “acceptable identification” at the polls. Proponents said the bill aimed to prevent voter fraud, though county clerks said that fraud isn’t a concern in Wyoming.
“We may not have a problem in this state, but there’s no need to wait until it happens,” said Rep. Roy Edwards, R-Campbell.
Ultimately, Clem and Edwards were the only two on the 14-member joint committee who supported the bill.
Rep. Mike Yin, D-Teton, testified against the bill, saying it could be a significant roadblock to voting access and disenfranchise certain groups of voters.
“Any roadblock we put in the way of allowing citizens in Wyoming the right to vote, I’m generally going to be against,” Yin said.
Another failed bill sought to end voters’ ability to change their party affiliations on the day of a primary election. Voters are now free to change affiliations up to two weeks before a primary and then again on primary day.
That issue was the Wyoming Republican Party’s top priority last legislative session, after failed gubernatorial candidate Foster Friess said independents and Democrats switching to vote in the Republican primary on Election Day caused him to lose to more moderate candidate Mark Gordon, who went on to be elected governor. A “Switch for Wyoming” group even formed urging voters to do exactly that.
Yin testified opposing that bill, too. He questioned if the bill accomplished anything.
“I think I understand the impetus, which is the election in 2018, a specific election where some people were asked to change their party affiliation,” Yin said. “I’m a little confused — is this going to stop people from changing their party affiliation? Just on the day of the election. What stops anyone from asking those people to do it two weeks before?”
Though the committee shot down the two bills, they could resurface during the legislative session if any lawmaker brings them back up.