CASPER — Lawmakers on Monday defeated two controversial bills that would have had significant implications on Wyoming’s elections.
The bills — one to eliminate the practice of crossover voting in primary elections, another to combat voter fraud by requiring photo identification at the polls — have received considerable attention since first appearing last fall, inspired by national concerns over voter fraud and the revelation that thousands of voters purposefully switched their party affiliations to participate in the 2018 Republican primaries — which some speculated helped to elect a more moderate candidate to the governorship.
Both bills were considered priorities for conservatives, receiving significant amounts of support from party leadership on their way to some success. During this winter’s legislative session, the crossover voting bill was introduced — and killed — numerous times, and the photo identification requirement, sponsored by Casper Republican Rep. Chuck Gray, narrowly failed in a 30-29 vote on the House floor.
Despite their previous success, both bills were defeated by sound margins at Monday’s meeting of the Joint Committee on Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions in Jackson. Gillette Republicans Rep. Scott Clem and Rep. Roy Edwards were the only members of the committee to vote for both pieces of legislation.
Lawmakers had spent months reworking the crossover voting bill and had appeared to have reached a compromise in a much-haggled over cutoff date for party switching, at two weeks prior to the election.
However, several people at Monday’s meeting said numerous flaws remained in the legislation.
Some were concerned that absentee ballot voters — with a significantly longer timeframe to register their votes — could be given preferential treatment over traditional electors. Others were worried about the constitutionality of limiting people’s freedom to affiliate with whichever party they wanted, with Sen. Cale Case, R-Lander, speculating such a restriction could potentially be at odds with the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
By Nick Reynolds
Casper Star-Tribune Via Wyoming News Exchange