Republican-controlled state legislatures are whittling away at the integrity of electoral democracy in the United States, rushing to pass laws that make it harder for Americans to vote and easier for partisans to tamper with election results. It is a legislative assault motivated by the failure of President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign and justified by baseless allegations about the legitimacy of his defeat. Mr. Trump and his supporters pursued indiscriminate lawsuits to overturn the results and then, urged on by Mr. Trump, some of his supporters stormed the Capitol to halt the completion of the election process. Now they are seeking to rewrite the rules to make it easier for Republicans to win elections without winning the most votes. This effort is inimical to the most basic principles of free and fair elections: that all who are eligible should have an equal opportunity to vote, that all votes should be counted and that the losing side should accept defeat and acknowledge the legitimacy of the outcome. In the face of these threats, Democrats in Congress have crafted an election bill, H.R. 1, that is poorly matched to the moment. The legislation attempts to accomplish more than is currently feasible, while failing to address some of the clearest threats to democracy, especially the prospect that state officials will seek to overturn the will of voters. Because there is little chance the bill will pass in its current form, Democrats face a clear choice. They can wage what might be a symbolic (and likely doomed) fight for all the changes they would like. Or they can confront the acute crisis at hand by crafting a more focused bill, perhaps more palatable for more senators, that aims squarely at ensuring that Americans can cast votes and that those votes are counted.
National: Mike Lindell’s ‘fraud’ allegations are even more ridiculous than you might think | Philip Bump/The Washington Post
If you were familiar with Mike Lindell a year or two ago, it was probably because you watch Fox News and had seen the ubiquitous ads for his company, MyPillow. Lindell appears in those ads to hype his pillows with Billy Mays levels of gruff enthusiasm. Over the past six months, though, Lindell’s become better known as a salesperson for something far less comforting: former president Donald Trump’s unfounded claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. Lindell’s wealth has made him a particularly loud voice among those clamoring about the election. He has the resources to hire various dubious “investigators” and to produce shakily constructed videos detailing what they’ve found. He also has the resources to respond to a 10-figure defamation lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems, not by acquiescing to having spread unverifiable claims but, instead, with a countersuit of his own in which he repeats and elevates those claims. That countersuit, filed this week, is the written version of Lindell’s “documentaries,” melodramatic, glitchy, sweeping and deeply flawed in both obvious and non-obvious ways. Central to the effort are those claims that the election was stolen, a claim that the suit reiterates explicitly as an exculpatory point for Lindell’s assertions about Dominion’s voting machines. “Fact,” the suit states at one point: “Direct and circumstantial evidence demonstrates that, during the 2020 General Election, electronic voting machines like those manufactured and sold by Dominion were manipulated and hacked in a manner that caused votes for one candidate to be tallied for the opposing candidate.” This is, of course, not a fact, since it isn’t true. But this claim — that Lindell can prove or has proved that fraud occurred — is meant to bolster his public assertions about the company. After all, if rampant fraud occurred in places where Dominion’s machines were used, how could he be to blame for saying that they made that possible? The catch here is that Lindell offers very little that’s actually intended to serve as direct evidence of malfeasance. There is a lot of hand-waving about questions that had been raised about Dominion’s machines and lots of ad hominem assertions about the company and its employees, but the suit introduces very little that might be considered actual, direct evidence that votes were manipulated.
National: Rejecting Biden’s Win, Rising Republicans Attack Legitimacy of Elections | Reid J. Epstein and Lisa Lerer/The New York Times
A Republican House candidate from Wisconsin says he is appalled by the violence he witnessed at the Jan. 6 rally that turned into the siege at the Capitol. But he did not disagree with G.O.P. lawmakers’ effort to overturn the presidential election results that night. In Michigan, a woman known as the “MAGA bride” after photos of her Donald J. Trump-themed wedding dress went viral is running for Congress while falsely claiming that it is “highly probable” the former president carried her state and won re-election. And in Washington State, the Republican nominee for governor last year is making a bid for Congress months after finally dropping a lawsuit challenging his 2020 defeat — a contest he lost by 545,000 votes. Across the country, a rising class of Republican challengers has embraced the fiction that the 2020 election was illegitimate, marred by fraud and inconsistencies. Aggressively pushing Mr. Trump’s baseless claims that he was robbed of re-election, these candidates represent the next generation of aspiring G.O.P. leaders, who would bring to Congress the real possibility that the party’s assault on the legitimacy of elections, a bedrock principle of American democracy, could continue through the 2024 contests.
National: The Republicans’ Wild Assault on Voting Rights in Texas and Arizona | Sue Halpern/The New Yorker
Afew hours after Michael Flynn, the retired three-star general and former national-security adviser and convicted felon, told a group of QAnon conspiracists who met in Dallas over Memorial Day weekend that the Biden Administration should be overthrown by force, Democratic legislators in the Texas statehouse, two hundred miles away in Austin, did something remarkable: they stopped their Republican colleagues from passing one of the most restrictive voting bills in the country. Flynn’s pronouncement and the Republicans’ efforts rely on repeating the same untruth: that the Presidency was stolen from Donald Trump by a cabal of Democrats, election officials, and poll workers who perpetrated election fraud. No matter that this claim has been litigated, relitigated, and debunked. Based on data collected by the conservative Heritage Foundation, the incidence of voter fraud in the two decades before last year’s election was about 0.00006 per cent of total ballots cast. It was negligible in 2020, too, as Trump’s Attorney General, William Barr, acknowledged at the time.
National: Republicans want to change state election laws. Here’s how they’re doing it. | Zach Montellaro and Daniel Payne/Politico
Passing new election laws has been one of the top priorities for Republican state legislators in 2021 — and they are working from similar playbooks to tighten or restrict the old policies even in states with very different election systems. The latest flashpoint in the GOP drive to change voting rules came in Texas, where Democrats temporarily blocked a sweeping new bill this week that touched many of the same voting policies that drew wide notice in Georgia earlier this year. Republicans across the country have proposed significant changes to their states’ election rules after former President Donald Trump promoted conspiracy theories and spread false claims that he’d been robbed of victory there and elsewhere by massive fraud. Together, Texas and Georgia show which areas Republicans are focused on after Trump’s 2020 loss. Texas’ mail voting policies were already very tight, but both states sought to make their absentee policies stricter. Both states specifically targeted new voting policies piloted by big, blue counties in 2020. And Republicans in both states sought to impose new limits on election officials — and expose them to new criminal penalties for wrongdoing. Right now, there’s one key difference between the legislation in Georgia and Texas: Georgia’s became law, while Texas’ is stalled. But not for long: In an interview with Texas talk radio host Chad Hasty on Thursday, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott said a special legislative session to pass a new elections law will come soon.
National: From Vermont to Kentucky, some Republicans expand voting access in 2021 | Julia Harte/Reuters
Vermont’s Republican governor on Monday signed a law requiring the state’s top election official to send a mail ballot to every eligible voter, becoming one of the few Republican leaders at the state level to buck their party’s trend of trying to limit voting access. The law signed by Governor Phil Scott makes permanent a universal mail-in voting system that Vermont adopted in 2020 to address the challenges to voting in person during the COVID-19 pandemic. It puts Vermont in the company of just six other U.S. states that automatically mail ballots to all eligible voters. Republicans have passed a wave of new voting requirements and limits this year in battleground states such as Georgia, Florida and Arizona, citing a need to stamp out alleged electoral fraud that former President Donald Trump says, without evidence, cost him the November election. Democrats and voting rights advocates have sued state officials over the measures and denounce them as partisan power grabs. State and federal judges have dismissed more than 50 lawsuits brought by Trump or his allies alleging fraud and other irregularities in November. But some Republicans lawmakers and election officials in states that are less competitive in national elections, such as Vermont, Kentucky and Oklahoma, say their party should be making it easier to vote, not harder – and support legislation to do just that.
National: Meadows Pressed Justice Dept. to Investigate Election Fraud Claims | Katie Benner/The New York Times
In Donald J. Trump’s final weeks in office, Mark Meadows, his chief of staff, repeatedly pushed the Justice Department to investigate unfounded conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election, according to newly uncovered emails provided to Congress, portions of which were reviewed by The New York Times. In five emails sent during the last week of December and early January, Mr. Meadows asked Jeffrey A. Rosen, then the acting attorney general, to examine debunked claims of election fraud in New Mexico and an array of baseless conspiracies that held that Mr. Trump had been the actual victor. That included a fantastical theory that people in Italy had used military technology and satellites to remotely tamper with voting machines in the United States and switch votes for Mr. Trump to votes for Joseph R. Biden Jr. None of the emails show Mr. Rosen agreeing to open the investigations suggested by Mr. Meadows, and former officials and people close to him said that he did not do so. An email to another Justice Department official indicated that Mr. Rosen had refused to broker a meeting between the F.B.I. and a man who had posted videos online promoting the Italy conspiracy theory, known as Italygate. But the communications between Mr. Meadows and Mr. Rosen, which have not previously been reported, show the increasingly urgent efforts by Mr. Trump and his allies during his last days in office to find some way to undermine, or even nullify, the election results while he still had control of the government.
National: Joe Manchin will oppose For the People Act, putting Senate’s voting rights bill in peril | Matthew Brown/USA Today
Sen. Joe Manchin, the pivotal Democrat in a split Senate, announced he will vote against Democrats’ flagship voting reform package, the For the People Act, in a major blow to the party’s ambitions on voting rights. “I believe that partisan voting legislation will destroy the already weakening binds of our democracy, and for that reason, I will vote against the For the People Act. Furthermore, I will not vote to weaken or eliminate the filibuster,” Manchin wrote in an op-ed published Sunday in the Charleston (West Virginia) Gazette-Mail. Manchin’s decision to oppose the legislation, which would allow the federal government greater ability to implement a standard election framework across the country and allow the federal government to enforce civil rights law, was rooted in his desire for bipartisanship and opposition to what he sees as a near-sighted partisan effort by Democrats. While the House passed the bill in March, the legislation has been bogged down in the Senate, where a 60-vote filibuster is necessary to advance legislation. Manchin has repeatedly said he will not vote to eliminate the filibuster, a Senate rule with a complicated history.
Full Article: Joe Manchin will vote against For the People Act
Editorial: Joe Manchin retreats to fantasyland and sticks America with the consequences | Eugene Robinson/The Washington Post
Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) has the right to live in a make-believe wonderland if he so chooses. But his party and his nation will pay a terrible price for his hallucinations about the nature of today’s Republican Party. And even this sacrifice might not guarantee that Manchin can hold on to support back home. Manchin’s declaration Sunday that he will vote against sweeping legislation to guarantee voting rights nationwide and that he “will not vote to weaken or eliminate” the Senate filibuster is a huge blow to President Biden’s hopes of enacting his ambitious agenda. There’s no way to spin this as anything other than awful. Manchin’s decision is a catastrophe not just for this particular bill, though he has almost certainly doomed the legislation. A senior administration official told me Monday that “none of this is a surprise to those who have heard Manchin’s views” and that the White House will continue working to “make progress notwithstanding the difficult challenges in front of us, including a 50-vote Senate.” But thanks to Manchin’s decision, Biden doesn’t even have a 50-vote Senate for what many Democrats see as an existential fight against the GOP’s attempt to gain and keep power through voter suppression. The 49 Senate votes left after Manchin’s defection will take Biden and the Democrats precisely nowhere. Worse, Manchin is asking Democrats to respond to ruthlessness with delusion. In an op-ed in the West Virginia paper the Charleston Gazette-Mail, Manchin said he will oppose the For the People Act, passed by the House in March, because it has no Republican support. “I believe that partisan voting legislation will destroy the already weakening binds of our democracy,” he wrote.
I wrote my weekend column about three ways that Donald Trump might be prevented from plunging the country into crisis in 2024, should he reproduce both his 2020 defeat and his quest to overturn the outcome: first, through the dramatic electoral overhauls favored by progressives; second, through a Bidenist politics of normalcy that prevents the G.O.P. from capturing the House or Senate; or third, through the actions of Republican officials who keep their heads down and don’t break with Trump but, as in 2020, refuse to go along if he turns another loss into an attempted putsch. Because the big electoral overhauls aren’t happening, I noted, the progressive attitude risks becoming a counsel of despair. But that note didn’t adequately convey just how despairing a lot of progressives have become, treating the hypothetical where Trump (or, for that matter, some other Republican nominee) actually succeeds in overturning an election defeat not just as a possibility but as a likely outcome in 2024, the destination to which we’re probably headed absent some unexpected change. “This is where it’s going,” the press critic Jay Rosen of New York University tweeted recently, about a scenario in which state legislatures, the House and the Senate would simply hand the presidency to the G.O.P. nominee, “and there is presently nothing on the horizon that would stop it.” In response to my column, the Nation columnist and Substacker Jeet Heer suggested that none of the three approaches to forestalling a crisis seem plausible. “In sum, we can all see the disaster that is coming,” he wrote. “But there is no clear way to stop it.” This pessimism is, in a way, an extension of the arguments that went on throughout the Trump presidency, about how great a threat to democracy his authoritarian posturing really posed. As a voice on the less-alarmist side, I don’t think I was wrong about the practical limits on Trump’s power seeking: For all his postelection madness, he never came close to getting the institutional support, from the courts or Republican governors or, for that matter, Mitch McConnell, that he would have needed to even begin a process that could have overturned the result. Jan. 6 was a travesty and tragedy, but its deadly futility illustrated Trumpian weakness more than illiberal strength.
Arizona: Is the Maricopa County election audit truly an audit? Here’s what professional auditors have to say | Jen Fifield/Arizona Republic
What to call the activity at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum this month? It’s not an “audit,” according to many of those watching. It doesn’t meet the formal criteria, they say. A better description would be a review or investigation — or, from some perspectives, “grift” or “clown show.” Some have taken to calling it a “fraudit.” Sierra Vista resident Ben Eaddy is one of many Arizonans who say calling this exercise an audit “lends it an appearance of legitimacy it simply does not deserve.” But many supporters of what the Arizona Senate’s contractors are doing say that this is an audit and should be called one. They believe that the multiple tests the county did before this to verify its election results should not be called “audits.” Ah, partisanship. But those in the profession? They get the final say. Most certified auditors contacted by The Arizona Republic, including accountants, internal auditors, and forensic auditors, say this is not an audit — or at least it doesn’t appear to be following the generally accepted standards for one, from the outside. … Mark Lindeman, acting co-director of national election integrity nonprofit Verified Voting, said he finds this contractor’s claim “deeply reprehensible.” Auditors should never release false and defamatory statements about the entity they are covering, he said, before, during or after their work. “It underscores all of the concerns we have had all along about a process skewed towards discrediting an election rather than establishing a truth about it,” he said.
Arizona 2020 Election Review: Risks for Republicans and Democracy | Michael Wines/The New York Times
Rob Goins is 57, a former Marine and a lifelong Republican in a right-leaning jigsaw of golf courses, strip malls and gated retirement communities pieced together in the Arizona desert. But ask about the Republican-backed review of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s 2020 election victory here in Maricopa County, and Mr. Goins rejects the party line. “There’s a lot of folks out there trying to make something out of nothing,” he said recently as he loaded purchases into his vehicle outside a Home Depot. “I don’t think there was any fraud. My opinion of this is that it’s a big lie.” Mr. Goins is flesh-and-blood evidence of what political analysts here are all but shouting: The Republican State Senate’s autopsy of the 2020 vote, broadly seen as a shambolic, partisan effort to nurse grievances about Donald J. Trump’s loss here in November, risks driving away some of the very people the party needs to win statewide elections in 2022. That Arizona Republicans are ignoring that message — and that Republicans in other states are now trying to mount their own Arizona-style audits — raises worrisome questions not just about their strategy, but about its impact on an American democracy facing fundamental threats.
How Georgia Could Conduct A Forensic Audit Of November’s Election | Stephen Fowler/Georgia Public Broadcasting
… An ongoing lawsuit in Fulton County seeks to unseal more than 145,000 absentee ballots only and inspect them for evidence of counterfeit or fraudulent ballots, but that is currently on hold after all of the defendants in the case filed motions to dismiss. But based on a GPB News analysis of Georgia election rules and practices, extensive reporting on Georgia’s new election system and interviews with elections experts, there is no way to “forensically audit” absentee ballots or votes printed out by ballot-marking devices, and numerous safeguards are in place to verify only legal votes are counted. Additionally, any “audit” done at this point could not alter the outcome or any election results, unlike pre-certification post-election audits many states conduct. The term “forensic audit” is traditionally used in the financial world to uncover embezzlement or other financial crimes by combing through minute details of accounts. These issues are traced to individual transactions or people — but that is not possible with elections. The right to a secret ballot means after a voter’s eligibility is confirmed (either in person or with signatures and identification for mail-in ballots), officials can no longer tie a ballot back to a specific person. This is by design. Amber McReynolds is a former elections director in the all-mail state of Colorado and the CEO of the National Vote at Home Institute and current member of the Board of Governors of the United States Postal Service. She said Republicans and other pro-Trump groups pushing for these so-called audits are asking for things that don’t exist, and are furthering conspiracy theories that show a lack of understanding about the secure election processes used across the country.
Michigan: Doomed campaign to reinstate Trump comes to Antrim County, original home of the election lie | Malachi Barrett/MLive.com
Conservative activists striving to prove the 2020 presidential election was “stolen” still believe an obscure Northern Michigan community holds the key to unraveling an international conspiracy. An election night error in Antrim County – which temporarily showed Donald Trump losing the historically Republican county – continues to fuel unproven allegation of voter fraud eight months later. This weekend, promoters of fraud claims and QAnon conspiracy theories are holding a summit in Antrim County to share ‘evidence’ amid a national push for forensic audits of voting machines and ballots across the United States. MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell is the scheduled keynote speaker for Saturday’s event at Friske’s Farm Market in Ellsworth. Lindell, who faces a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit over his claims of rigged election machines, recently predicted Trump will be reinstated as president in August. There is no legal mechanism to reverse President Joe Biden’s victory. John Pirich, a retired attorney who represented Trump in a 2016 election lawsuit, said there’s zero chance Trump will be reinstated. The Michigan Bureau of Elections conducted statewide audits already and released a report in April. Michigan’s certified results show Biden won the state by 154,000 votes, a difference of 3 percentage points. “It’s just spinning a fairy tale out of an event that is over with and done with,” Pirich said.
Nevada governor signs bill permanently expanding mail-in voting to all registered voters | Joseph Choi/The Hill
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) on Wednesday signed a new bill that expands mail-in voting to all registered voters, requiring local election officials to send out mail ballots before a primary or general election. “At a time when State legislatures across the country are attempting to roll back access to the polls, I am so proud that Nevada continues to push forward with proven strategies that make voting more accessible and secure,” Sisolak said in a press release. “Nevada has always been widely recognized as a leader in election administration and with this legislation, we will continue to build on that legacy.” This legislation expanding voter access comes as several GOP-controlled state legislatures have moved to tighten voter restrictions following the presidential election. The 2020 race saw record turnout as the pandemic required social distancing and states relied heavily on early and mail-in voting for Americans to cast their ballots. Lawmakers in 14 states, the majority of which have Republican legislatures and governors, have passed 22 bills to tighten voting restrictions, according to a report from the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University. The year’s tally of legislation like this is expected to grow. Among the restrictions, states like Iowa and Montana have passed legislation to reduce the hours of polling places. Others have scaled back early voting hours, and sought to limit ballot dropbox usage.
In my previous post I explained the preliminary conclusions from the three experts engaged by New Hampshire to examine an election anomaly in the town of Windham, November 2020. Improperly folded ballots (which shouldn’t have happened) had folds that were interpreted as votes (which also shouldn’t have happened) and this wasn’t noticed by any routine procedures (where either overvote rejection or RLAs would have caught and corrected the problem)–except that one candidate happened to ask for a recount. At least in New Hampshire it’s easy to ask for a recount and the Secretary of State’s office has lots of experience doing recounts.
Full Article: New Hampshire Election Audit, part 2
Pennsylvania Republican leaders face pressure to pursue Arizona-style 2020 election ‘audit’ | Andrew Seidman/Philadelphia Inquirer
Republican leaders of the Pennsylvania legislature are coming under growing pressure to conduct a new review of the 2020 election, as former President Donald Trump and his supporters continue to make false claims that the vote was rife with widespread fraud. The push is dividing the party between those who want to put the presidential race behind them five months into the Biden administration, and others eager to curry favor with the GOP’s undisputed leader. The split also illuminates competing visions for how the party can win in next year’s high-stakes elections for governor and U.S. Senate. Lawmakers in Harrisburg spent months holding hearings about Pennsylvania’s election system, with GOP leaders taking pains to emphasize they want to improve state law — not relitigate the presidential race. Republicans’ point person on election legislation in the state House released a report last month outlining potential changes for a systematic overhaul of the election code, and GOP lawmakers expect to introduce a bill this month. But this week, three Republican lawmakers traveled to Phoenix to get a firsthand look at a controversial partisan review of last year’s election in Maricopa County, Ariz., which has been underway for months. The lawmakers — including State Sen. Doug Mastriano, a likely candidate for governor — then called for a similar review in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania: How the national push by Trump allies to audit 2020 ballots started quietly in Pennsylvania | Rosalind S. Helderman/The Washington Post
Joe Biden’s presidential victory in Pennsylvania had been certified for weeks when officials in some Republican-leaning counties began receiving strange phone calls from GOP state senators in late December. The lawmakers, who had been publicly questioning Biden’s win, had a request: Would the counties agree to a voluntary audit of their ballots? The push to conduct unofficial election audits in multiple counties, described in interviews and emails obtained by The Washington Post, served as a last-ditch effort by allies of former president Donald Trump to undercut Biden’s win after failing in the courts and the state legislature. The previously unreported lobbying foreshadowed a playbook now in use in Arizona and increasingly being sought in other communities across the country as Trump supporters clamor for reviews of the ballots cast last fall, citing false claims that the vote was corrupted by fraud. The former president’s backers argue that any evidence of problems they can uncover will prove the election system is vulnerable — and could have been manipulated to help Biden win. The audits are being pushed by a loose affiliation of GOP lawmakers, lawyers and self-described election experts, backed by private fundraising campaigns whose donors are unknown. In Pennsylvania, the state senators quietly targeted at least three small counties, all of which Trump had won handily. Their proposal was unorthodox: to have a private company scrutinize the county’s ballots, for free — a move outside the official processes used for election challenges. Only one county is known to have agreed to the senators’ request: rural Fulton County, on the Maryland border, where Trump performed better than anywhere else in the state, winning nearly 86 percent of the roughly 8,000 votes cast.
Texas Attorney General Says Trump Would’ve ‘Lost’ State If It Hadn’t Blocked Mail-in Ballots Applications Being Sent Out | Jason Lemon/Newsweek
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, said former President Donald Trump would have lost in Texas in the 2020 election if his office had not successfully blocked counties from mailing out applications for mail-in ballots to all registered voters. Harris County, home to the city of Houston, wanted to mail out applications for mail-in ballots to its approximately 2.4 million registered voters due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the conservative Texas Supreme Court blocked the county from doing so after it faced litigation from Paxton’s office. “If we’d lost Harris County—Trump won by 620,000 votes in Texas. Harris County mail-in ballots that they wanted to send out were 2.5 million, those were all illegal and we were able to stop every one of them,” Paxton told former Trump adviser Steve Bannon during the latter’s War Room podcast on Friday. “Had we not done that, we would have been in the very same situation—we would’ve been on Election Day, I was watching on election night and I knew, when I saw what was happening in these other states, that that would’ve been Texas. We would’ve been in the same boat. We would’ve been one of those battleground states that they were counting votes in Harris County for three days and Donald Trump would’ve lost the election,” the Republican official said.
Gov. Phil Scott of Vermont signed legislation on Monday that requires all registered voters in the state to receive mail-in ballots, an expansion of voting rights that counters a movement among Republicans in other states to restrict them. Mr. Scott, a Republican, signed the bill nearly four weeks after the Vermont General Assembly approved the legislation, which also allows voters to fix, or “cure,” a ballot that was deemed defective if it was filled out or mailed incorrectly. In a statement on Monday, Mr. Scott said he had signed the bill “because I believe making sure voting is easy and accessible, and increasing voter participation, is important.” He added that he would push lawmakers to expand the provision beyond statewide general elections, “which already have the highest voter turnout.” “For greater consistency and to expand access further,” he said, “I am asking the General Assembly to extend the provisions of this bill to primary elections, local elections and school budget votes when they return to session in January.”
A state legislative committee voted Monday to pursue two bills that would significantly change the way Wyoming’s statewide elections are run as soon as next year. One bill would create a ranked-choice system. The other would institute an open primary. The Legislature’s Joint Committee on Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivision voted to draft the bills after initially discussing legislation that would require a runoff if one candidate did not receive a certain portion of the vote. But doubts about the feasibility of implementing that approach by next year’s election led lawmakers to look elsewhere. The effort to change Wyoming’s primary elections, which has been talked about for years, is gaining traction due to the increased desire to unseat Rep. Liz Cheney and the size of the field in the last gubernatorial election. During the 2018 election, for example, Gov. Mark Gordon received less than 50% of the vote but won after several far-right candidates split the electorate. Cheney’s critics worry about a similar result in next year’s GOP House primary, which already features nine candidates.