Major changes to Wyoming electoral process begin soon

By Noah Zahn, Wyoming Tribune Eagle Via Wyoming News Exchange
Posted 4/9/24

CHEYENNE — As election season approaches, Wyoming voters need to be aware of statewide changes to the electoral process that will be implemented this year.

Historically, Wyomingites have …

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Major changes to Wyoming electoral process begin soon


CHEYENNE — As election season approaches, Wyoming voters need to be aware of statewide changes to the electoral process that will be implemented this year.

Historically, Wyomingites have been able to register for whichever party they choose up until they fill out their ballot on Election Day.

Legislative changes made last year require currently registered voters to select a party by May 15, one day before the candidate filing period begins. Once registered, they won’t be able to change their party until after the election.

The other change reduces the period for absentee/early voting from 45 days to 28.

Absentee ballots for the Aug. 20 primary election will be mailed to those who request one beginning July 23 and on Oct. 8 for the Nov. 5 general election.

“It is limiting of people’s free rights to vote,” said Jordan Evans, chairman of the Laramie County Democrats, on the law restricting crossover voting. “As parties, we are relying on the government to do the business of the parties to the primary election. And because it’s being paid for with public money and is a public process, it should always be open to the public to decide who they want to vote for.

“To have no idea who’s even going to be on the ballot prior to deciding how you want to register

is taking crucial information away from voters that they need to make an informed decision.”

Evans speculates that this change will increase the number of permanently registered Republicans who identify with the Democratic party. He said many people feel that they have more of a choice in the Republican primary, so they previously would switch their registration on the day of the election or shortly before voting the Republican primary, and then switch back to the Democratic party.

This often occurs when there is little to no competition on one side of the primary ballot.

The Laramie County Democrats said they believe this will hurt both parties. If they lose the ability to track who is switching between parties, Evans said they will no longer have a good idea of who to interact and engage with to promote their party.

“As long as public money is being used to run these elections, the public needs to be able to vote for who they want,” Evans said.

Although the laws are in place and will not be reversed before the election, Evans said the Laramie County Democrats will continue to encourage open access and ease of voting for everyone at the April 13 county convention and going forward.

The crossover law does not apply to new registrants who sign up to vote from May 16 through Primary Election Day. The candidate filing period ends May 31.

The WTE did not receive comment from the Laramie County Republican Party by press time.

Party changes can be made in person in the Laramie County Clerk’s election office, during a registration outreach event sponsored by the county clerk, or with a town clerk in Albin, Burns or Pine Bluffs.

A Wyoming driver’s license or other government-issued identification is required to make the change. A mail-in voter registration form must be notarized and include a copy of acceptable identification.

Laramie County Clerk Debra Lee said, “We have a lot of snowbirds ... people who go in the winter to Arizona and warmer climates, a lot of them like to vote day one of early voting, and then they go to Arizona. So for those people, they might not be aware of that. Now, they would still, of course, have the option to request an absentee mail ballot, but it is a change for those who like to vote in person and early.”

Lee said she was unsure whether the changes would have an impact on voter turnout but speculated that some may not vote because they were unaware of the changes until they show up to the polls on Election Day.

According to a news release from the Laramie County Clerk’s office, absentee and early voting is very popular with Laramie County voters. In 2020, 60% voted in advance of Election Day, and in 2022, 49% cast their ballots prior to Election Day.