A polling place during a special election in Sheridan in 2019. (Kevin Knapp/WyoFile)

A lawsuit filed Thursday in Albany County District Court is asking a judge to throw out a Wyoming voter ID law that took effect in July 2021. 

The state law requires those voting in person to present a qualifying ID, such as a driver’s license or tribal ID card. Before the law was enacted, Wyoming voters needed to show identification in order to register, but not to cast a vote. The additional requirement violates the Wyoming Constitution, the lawsuit alleges. 

“No right to vote is enumerated in the United States Constitution, unlike the Wyoming Constitution, which enumerates suffrage as fundamental,” the complaint stated. 

“We would like the court to take a close look at the Wyoming Constitution to see if there’s actually a compelling reason to impose greater restrictions on voter access,” Charles Pelkey, the attorney who filed the lawsuit, told WyoFile. 

Pelkey, an Albany County Democrat, served in the Wyoming House of Representatives from 2015 to 2020. The complaint was filed on behalf of Albany County resident and voter, Tim Newcomb. 

The lawsuit does not challenge the ID requirement for registration. 

History: When the law was just a bill at the Wyoming Legislature, proponents said it was meant to prevent voter fraud and instill confidence in elections. Critics said it would raise the risk of disenfranchising voters and lend legitimacy to discredited claims of widespread election fraud. 

The bill passed the Legislature with the support of 57 sponsors and co-sponsors.

Who said what: “Voter integrity is paramount,” Rep. Chuck Gray (R-Casper) told WyoFile. “And this lawsuit is frivolous.” 

Gray was the main sponsor of the bill last year. 

Why it matters: Last November, some voters in Wyoming had their first experience under the voter ID law with several local ballot measures. This August, however, will be the first major election where residents will need identification to cast an in-person vote with all five of Wyoming’s executive branch offices on the ballot. Wyoming’s lone U.S. House seat is also up for election, in addition to all districts in the state House and odd-numbered districts in the state Senate. 

Resources: The list of acceptable forms of ID under the law can be found on the Wyoming Secretary of State’s website

Maggie Mullen reports on state government and politics. Before joining WyoFile in 2022, she spent five years at Wyoming Public Radio.

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  1. What do you take with you when you leave the house? Just asking.
    Clothing. Shoes. Keys. Wallet. Hat.
    I also grab a bottle of water for the drive and make sure I have kleenex.
    Yet the assumption is these people don’t do these things.
    Must be Democrat lawyers. They always assume people are just stupid.

  2. Do you remember how you registere?d? First name, middle name , last name? Or first name, middle initial, last name? Texas passed the same law and applied it to all elections. In primaries this year in Elephant Paso over 40% of mail in ballots were thrown out because the name on the registation card and attached and notarized IF we’re not EXAcTLY the same. There is no allowance for a provisional ballots until the issue of identity is resolved. Most of those affected were older voters who had been registered and voting for decades.

  3. Showing an ID when voting is a restriction? If someone wants to steal my vote, they can say they are me and vote for me if they do not have to show ID. They merely need to be there before me. We all must have ID for many day to day living situations. How is requiring ID to vote an injustice?

  4. As long as all eligible voters can get a issued I’d at no cost to them, such as eligible voters who drivers license has expired and no longer drive I see no problem. Our democratic republic depends on it’s citizens to vote and the best way to make sure people voices are heard and to encourage people to vote is not to raise artificial barriers to discourage voting. There has not been a huge amount of voter fraud in this country for years but people do not realize the first line of defense against voter fraud, the local election judge or poll worker has come under attack by disillusioned forces that have proved nothing time and time again in a court of law. The more people that vote the better the consensus and the stronger our democracy becomes

    1. WY state ID’s are $10. Considering you need an ID to buy cigarettes, alcohol, drive, open a bank account, buy paint at Walmart, etc. I see no problem requiring proof at the booth that you are who you say you are. Only someone wanting to cheat is against that. Those who say voters are “disenfranchised” are lying for their cause. Dead people get to vote where ID’s aren’t required.