After President Donald Trump tweeted the idea of delaying the November election, several Republicans in Congress quickly rejected the idea Thursday, and two of Wyoming’s federal delegates were among them. The president’s tweet, which was met with widespread disapproval from federal leadership in both parties, was posted Thursday morning. ”With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history,” Trump tweeted. “It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???” The first public reaction among Wyoming’s congressional delegation came from Sen. John Barrasso, who said there would be no delay of the November election in an interview later Thursday morning with Fox Business. ”We have been focused and working on making sure elections are secure, and we will get results,” Barrasso said. “It’s going to take a while. We may not know on election night the balance of the House of Representatives or the Senate or the presidency, but we will not delay the elections.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed people’s daily lives, upending how we make trips to the grocery store, how we worship and a plethora of other rituals. So it is with our elections. Over a month ago, the Wyoming Democratic Party announced it would be suspending the in-person portion of its presidential caucus, citing public safety concerns tied to the virus. Almost immediately, the decision sparked controversy among some members, who feared their ballots could arrive late, or not at all. When the votes were finally counted last weekend, however, not only did it turn out that the party could successfully conduct a ballot entirely by mail, but that it could achieve record turnout in the process, reporting a 38 percent participation rate: roughly double that seen in prior caucuses. Nearly all of it was done by mail. And all of it was orchestrated by a staff of three people with the help of a handful of volunteers scattered throughout the state.
Wyoming: Democrats suspend in-person voting for caucuses as election officials face coronavirus fears | Hannah Knowles and John Wagner/The Washington Post
The Wyoming Democratic Party says it is suspending the in-person part of its April 4 presidential caucuses as election officials around the country confront the risk of the novel coronavirus. The party said on Facebook that it is also suspending all county conventions. “Our priority is ensuring that people are healthy and safe,” party chair Joe Barbuto said in a statement. “Holding public events right now would put that in jeopardy, so this is the responsible course of action.” Voters are being encouraged to vote by mail, the party said, adding that, as of now, ballot drop-off locations will be open on March 28 and April 4. Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by March 20. Louisiana leaders on Friday announced they are delaying the state’s primary until the summer, while election officials in the four states slated to hold primaries Tuesday — Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Ohio — said in a joint statement that they remain confident voters can “safely and securely cast their ballots in this election.” They encouraged “otherwise healthy” poll workers to carry out their duties.
The Wyoming Secretary of State’s Office this week announced that a final contract was awarded to Election Systems & Software (ES&S) for the purchase of election equipment for all 23 Wyoming counties. The new equipment will be in place for the 2020 Election. “Wyoming’s elections are held with integrity from beginning to end, and Election Day 2020 will be no different. After a diligent and thorough evaluation process, made possible thanks to an appropriation from the legislature in 2019, Wyoming has signed a contract, formed a new partnership and purchased the most secure and up-to-date voting equipment on the market,” said Secretary of State Edward Buchanan. Locally, not much will change. County Clerk Sherry Daigle told Buckrail Teton County has been ahead of the curve for years now. “We’re pretty excited it is going to them. We’ve been using their updated system for four years now and, really, since the ‘80s when we were using BRC’s punchcard ballot machines, and then ES&S bought out BRC in the ‘90s.
Wyoming: Secretary of State’s Office Awards Contract for Election Equipment to ES&S | The Cheyenne Post
Today the Wyoming Secretary of State’s Office announces that a final contract has been awarded to Election Systems & Software (ES&S) for the purchase of election equipment for all 23 Wyoming counties. New equipment will be in place for the 2020 Election. “Wyoming’s elections are held with integrity from beginning to end, and Election Day 2020 will be no different. After a diligent and thorough evaluation process, made possible thanks to an appropriation from the legislature in 2019, Wyoming has signed a contract, formed a new partnership and purchased the most secure and up-to-date voting equipment on the market.” said Secretary of State Edward Buchanan. A working group established by the Secretary of State’s Office chose ES&S after a competitive bidding process. The group included five current county clerks, one former county clerk and four staff members from the Secretary of State’s Office. “Security measures on election equipment have certainly advanced in the 15 years since the State of Wyoming last purchased equipment. Wyoming’s elections will benefit from these security advancements. Each ballot will be printed on paper – always creating an audit trail that can be used to confirm the accuracy of every single vote. Voting systems are air-gapped and will never connect to the internet,” said State Election Director Kai Schon. “ES&S has implemented the best security measures and their systems have been tried and tested over years of successful elections in Wyoming.”
Voters in Wyoming would not be able to switch their political party affiliation on primary election day under a measure passed Tuesday by the state Senate. The bill was approved on a 20-10 vote and sent to the House of Representatives, which is working on its own version of the measure. Wyoming currently allows voters to change party affiliation on primary or general election day. That has some members of the Republican Party, the dominant political party in the state, complaining that Democratic crossover voters can unfairly influence Wyoming’s GOP primaries.
The Wyoming House of Representatives will debate a bill that would require voters to present photo identification at the polls. Sponsored by Casper Republican Chuck Gray, House Bill 192 seeks to prevent voter fraud in Wyoming. The bill passed a legislative committee Tuesday, even after a representative from the Secretary of State’s office told lawmakers that she was unaware of any recent reported cases of voter fraud in Wyoming. In addition to requiring identification to verify one’s identity at the polls, the legislation also grants authority to the secretary of state to set parameters for acceptable forms of photo I.D., something not currently outlined in state statute. Currently, 35 states require some form of photo I.D. to vote. Wyoming is not among them.
An all-Republican Wyoming legislative committee defeated a GOP-backed bill Tuesday that would have prevented voters from changing party affiliation in the months before a primary, but the panel advanced a Democrat’s proposal to institute ranked-choice voting.
The party-affiliation bill sought to discourage people from switching parties in order to vote in another party’s primary. Republicans in Wyoming increasingly complain that Democratic crossover unfairly influences Wyoming’s GOP primaries. All five members of the Senate Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee — all of whom are Republicans — opposed or had reservations about the change, however. “I can’t find hardly anybody in my district who sees this as an issue. In fact, quite the opposite,” said Sen. Bill Landen, R-Casper, the committee chairman.
The Wyoming Senate Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee on Thursday morning took testimony on a bill that aims to discourage crossover voting in Wyoming primary elections, but held-over taking a vote on the proposal until Tuesday. Committee members also said they would take more testimony on the bill at that time. Senate File 32 would bar people from changing their party registration in the ten weeks leading up to the primary election. That date coincides with the first day for candidates to file to run in a Wyoming primary.
A bill to open up Wyoming to mail-in ballot elections failed to gain any traction against a headwind of concerns about voter fraud and uninformed voters having an easier time participating in the system. House Bill 36 would have allowed county commissioners to choose to run state and federal elections through a mail-in ballot system. It failed on a 4-3 vote Thursday in the House Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee, with Reps. Aaron Clausen, R-Douglas; Dan Furphy, R-Laramie; and Chairman Tyler Lindholm, R-Sundance, voting in favor. Two freshman members were excused from the meeting and didn’t enter a proxy vote.
A newly elected state senator is introducing a bill to address crossover voting in Wyoming’s elections, despite a lack of appetite by the committee that sets the rules for elections across the state. Sponsored by Senator-elect Bo Biteman, R-Ranchester, the bill — if enacted — would require voters looking to switch their party to fill out an application before a notary or election official, which they would then be required to file with the county clerk. Like previous versions of the bill, the legislation also sets parameters for when voters can change their party, and would prevent voters from changing their party affiliation during the roughly 10-week period between candidates officially filing for office and the primary election.
In the future, Wyomingites could be filling out their ballots from the comfort of their own home. A proposed bill to allow counties to move to mail-in ballot elections cleared a major hurdle Wednesday, passing out of the Joint Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Interim Committee on an 11-2 vote. But whether or not it finds support in the full Legislature next session remains to be seen. The bill would give county clerks the option to switch over their elections to a mail-in ballot. Voters would receive a ballot at their residence and could drop it off or mail it back to the county clerk’s office, or drop it off at one of several secured ballot drop boxes across the county. The bill also mandates the county have one polling center open on the day of the election where voters could drop off a ballot or fill one out.
Wyoming: FBI partners with Wyoming, Cheyenne officials to prevent election hacking | Wyoming Tribune Eagle
Election officials and candidates from across the state came to Cheyenne on Friday to get an intensive course in cybersecurity from the FBI. The event was a chance for the FBI to partner with the Wyoming Secretary of State’s Office to help educate county clerks and candidates for elected office. Experts from both government agencies spent Friday covering types of threats the group could face, how to keep their organizations secure and what steps they should take if they become the target of a suspected hack. “I call it Cyber 101. We want to educate them regarding potential cyber threats, but also the tools available to them to potentially mitigate the threats,” said FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Calvin Shivers. “We wanted to take a proactive posture and educate our elected officials, our candidates, our clerks of court regarding potential threats.
The morning after his GOP primary election loss, Foster Friess asked other state party gubernatorial candidates whether they would support banning Democrats from switching parties on primary day. In an email to Wyoming GOP chairman Frank Eathorne and to each Republican candidate or a representative of their campaign — with the exception of Gordon — Friess said voting results didn’t reflect his vision of Wyoming’s political makeup. “It seems like the Democrats have figured out this party switch deal to their advantage,” Friess said in the email. “I guess there’s 114,000 registered Republicans and 17,000 registered Democrats. No way is that the actual mix, and with Trump getting 70% of the vote, it shows how the Democrats have been able to control our elections with putting on a Republican coat.”
Wyoming lawmakers are exploring the possibility of allowing counties to administer mail-in ballot systems, but one of the legislators in the committee that could move it forward said it’s unlikely it will go anywhere. For the last several years, county clerks from around Wyoming have been discussing the possibility of elections by mail. Several factors led to the notion, such as aging voting equipment that will be expensive to replace, difficulty finding suitable polling places and a shortage of election judges, said Debra Lee, Laramie County clerk. The expense of it all, she said, is becoming hard for clerks. And with Wyoming in an ongoing fiscal crunch, there’s little money available on the state or local levels to address the problems.
Wyoming is about halfway there. In an omnibus appropriations bill passed by the U.S. Congress this spring, legislators designated $380 million in elections security grants to the states, and Wyoming will be getting a $3 million chunk of those funds. The grants require a 5 percent match from states, working out to $150,000 from Wyoming. A formula breaking down distribution by county has yet to be hashed out, but will likely factor in population and individual county needs. The funds will be provided through the Help America Vote Act of 2002, which last disbursed payments for upgrades nationally in 2010. The last time Wyoming saw any of that money was in 2005, however, when the current generation of machines were bought for the 2006 elections.
The Wyoming Legislature will look at a measure to create a trust fund to maintain its voting systems going forward. The 2016 election saw an unprecedented number of attempts to interfere with states’ voting systems, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Wyoming was not among the 21 states that reported attempted hacking, but election security experts warned regional lawmakers recently that the Cowboy State could be a target for nefarious actors looking to undermine confidence in the American democratic process. Outdated voting equipment in Wyoming was replaced after funding was allocated by the federal government via the 2002 Help America Vote Act. But more than a decade later, many election custodians say that voting equipment has reached the end of its useful life, said Kai Schon, state elections director for the Wyoming Secretary of State.
Gov. Matt Mead on Thursday selected a former Wyoming secretary of state candidate and Laramie County prosecutor as the next secretary of state. Ed Buchanan will serve the remainder of Ed Murray’s term as the state’s election and business registration authority after Murray stepped down in early February over allegations of sexual misconduct. Mead said in a news release that Buchanan’s experience in the Legislature, military career and job as an attorney and prosecutor made him a good choice for the office. “Ed (Buchanan) is committed to Wyoming and to the responsibilities of the office,” Mead said in a news release.
The Plan for Aging Voting Equipment Task Force kicked into gear in Park County, with a public brainstorming session Feb. 20 at the Cody Library on ways of lowering election costs in order to cover what’s expected to be an $8-10 million bill for new voting machines in the state. … As the state struggles to find funding for future elections, it is exploring ways to lower costs by asking voters how they would feel about the consolidation of polling places, casting ballots in county vote centers or switching to a vote-by-mail system.
Wyoming: Secretary of State Ed Murray resigns; move caps dramatic fall for Cheyenne politician | Casper Star Tribune
Wyoming Secretary of State Ed Murray announced his resignation late Friday afternoon, effective immediately. Murray said he has been “devastated” by two recent accusations of sexual misconduct and that he is now “unable to focus entirely on serving the good people of Wyoming.” … The resignation offers a dramatic conclusion to a two-month period during which the Cheyenne businessman went from the likely frontrunner to replace Gov. Matt Mead to a private citizen. Murray’s troubles began in mid-December when a woman named Tatiana Maxwell accused him in a public Facebook post of sexually assaulting her in the early 1980s when Murray and Maxwell were both working at a Cheyenne law firm. Murray strenuously denied the allegation.
Wyoming voting officials have started looking into replacing aging election equipment across the state. A panel of state officials has been convened to determine whether new machines are needed and how much replacement would cost, as well as where to seek funding. “The State of Wyoming is responsible for providing citizens with an election process that can be trusted. Wyoming is leading the charge with this Task Force to ensure that no county is left with voting equipment at risk of deteriorating,” State Election Director Kai Schon said in a statement.
State and county officials have formed a task force to address Wyoming’s aging election equipment. Teton County Clerk Sherry Daigle said it’s now ten years old and the technology has gotten behind the times. “Technology is outdated the day you put it into effect because it moves so fast,” she said. “And a lot of the equipment we have is, you know, they’re computer scanners and readers. So we wanted to make sure we’re not behind the eight ball.” Daigle said the challenge will be coming up with the money. It will cost the state $8 to 10 million dollars to replace the state’s current equipment.
After a heated 2016 election season, Wyoming lawmakers are looking to implement several new regulations relating to political campaigns during elections. During its meetings this week in Lander, the Wyoming Legislature Joint Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee advanced several draft bills for further consideration relating to election issues. And some of those pieces of proposed legislation pertain to a slew of controversial incidents in Wyoming in 2016. Just weeks before the 2016 general election, the Wyoming Republican Party filed a complaint with the secretary of state’s office alleging left-wing political groups based in Laramie engaged in shadowy tactics stemming from a series of mailers critical of Republican candidates. The mailers described in the GOP complaint alleged that the source of funding, a group known as Forward Wyoming Advocacy, was connected to another organization, ELLA WY, which was hired by several Democratic candidates for consulting services. While any firm connection between candidates, their campaigns and Forward Wyoming Advocacy is yet unclear, Republicans alleged it constituted a violation of Wyoming election law.
Wyoming: Secretary of State rejects White House request for voter data, citing federal overreach | Casper Star-Tribune
Wyoming is joining more than 20 states in refusing to turn over public voter data to a federal commission investigating the integrity of elections. “I’m going to decline to provide any Wyoming voter information,” Secretary of State Ed Murray told the Star-Tribune on Monday. “It’s not sitting well with me.” The Presidential Advisory Commission on Voter Integrity sent a request to all 50 states last week, asking them to turn over any publicly available personal voter data. Many state officials, from across the political spectrum, have declined to do so.
Wyoming: Secretary of State Won’t Release Voter Info to ‘Election Integrity’ Commission | Planet Jackson Hole
Wyoming voter information is safe from federal meddling. Republican Secretary of State Ed Murray announced Monday he will not provide voter info to President Trump’s Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. “I am going to safeguard the privacy of Wyoming’s voters because of my strong belief in a citizen’s right of privacy,” Murray said in a statement. “I believe elections are the responsibility of the states under the United States Constitution and I do believe this request could lead to a federal overreach.” In his statement, Murray also noted skepticism about the commission’s intent: “I am not at all convinced that it has clearly stated its purpose is connected to the information requested.” … Wyoming is among 44 states that have refused to provide the commission with voter data, CNN reported Tuesday.
Wyoming: Attorney General will not consider Wyoming GOP complaint against liberal groups | Casper Star Tribune
The Wyoming Attorney General’s office has declined to consider the state Republican Party’s complaints against a progressive organization that sent voters mail praising Democratic legislative candidates and criticizing their GOP opponents, according to recent letters sent to people involved in the grievances. The Attorney General’s office will not investigate the complaints because they came from the Wyoming Republican Party, Senior Assistant Attorney General Michael Robinson wrote. State law specifies complaints must come from qualified electors. And a political party is not a qualified elector under state law, he wrote.
The commonplace Wyoming voter tradition of changing party affiliation at the polls on primary day will live on after a legislative committee killed a bill Thursday that would have made it more difficult for Democrats to vote in Republican primaries and vice versa. Wyoming doesn’t allow cross-party voting on primary day, but voters may switch parties moments before voting. Under the proposal, voters would have been allowed to switch no fewer than 30 days before primary day. The bill made it through the Wyoming House before dying on a 3-0 vote in the Senate Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee. Political parties are private organizations and members only should decide which candidates will represent the parties in the general election, Wyoming Republican Party Chairman Matt Micheli, told the committee in support of the bill.
The Wyoming House on Monday killed a bill that would have extended the period for counting absentee ballots. House Corporations Committee Chairman Dan Zwonitzer (R, HD-43, Cheyenne) sponsored HB68 that would have required county clerks to count absentee ballots received by the clerk after polls closed. Under existing law, clerks count only ballots delivered to them before polls close. Zwonitzer said the measure would have required the clerks to count absentee ballots postmarked the day before an election, provided they were received before a county’s canvassing board met to certify election results the following Friday. County clerks had expressed their dissatisfaction with the bill in a committee hearing last week. Their opposition came through during floor debate Monday. Rep. Lloyd Larsen (R, HD-54, Lander), said his clerk had lobbied him to vote against the bill. When she calls, he listens, he said. Other representatives said they likewise had been called by their county clerks.
A committee of Wyoming lawmakers on Monday voted down a bill creating a presidential primary election, instead opting to study the issue during the interim. The vote in the House Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee came after concerns were raised by county clerks as to the specifics of how such an election would work, as well as a need by the state Republican Party to change its bylaws to allow for a primary. As proposed, House Bill 201 would have set a separate presidential primary election in April, in addition to the regular primary in August and the general election in November. Although not written into the bill itself, Rep. David Northrup, R-Powell, said the intent is for the political parties to foot the cost of the presidential primary.
The House Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee on Thursday voted down a bill to require voters to show photo identification at the polls. But it advanced bills concerning a system for permanent absentee ballots, election recounts and the date at which an absentee ballot must be accepted. Committee members voted down a voter ID bill that was brought by committee member Rep. Lars Lone, R-Cheyenne. Lone said he was given a ballot for an incorrect precinct when he went to vote and said if he had been required to show identification, that situation could have been avoided. Lone said he was not bringing the bill because of voter fraud concerns.