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.
Currently, both the Republican and Democratic parties in Wyoming hold caucuses to choose delegates to send to the parties’ respective national conventions. Those delegates are usually bound to vote for a particular candidate to become the party’s nominee. Caucuses are set up by the political parties themselves, and those parties control the rules. Some states have more complicated caucus systems, while others are simpler. That’s compared to a presidential primary, which uses vote totals to determine the number of delegates for each candidate that will go to a party’s national convention.
Unprecedented interest in the 2016 primaries led to dissatisfaction among first-time caucus-goers, not only in Wyoming, but also in other states that conduct caucuses.
In fact, because of the ire over caucuses, Colorado voters decided to switch to a presidential primary system through a ballot measure during the November general election.