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.
Articles about voting issues in Wyoming.
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 Outdated voting equipment in Wyoming was replaced after funding was allocated by the federal government via the 2002 Help America Vote Act.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.