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.