Election volunteers work during the Aug. 18, 2020 primary election at St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Casper. (Dustin Bleizeffer/WyoFile)

A measure to require a photo ID at the polls is sailing through the Legislature — despite testimony from the Secretary of State and local election clerks that voter fraud is not a problem in Wyoming. 

House Bill 75 – voter fraud-prevention would require voters to present either a valid Wyoming driver’s license, tribal ID, U.S. passport, military ID or Medicare insurance card when voting in person. Passage of the bill, which is sponsored by Rep. Chuck Gray (R-Casper) and co-sponsored by 56 lawmakers between the House and Senate, is all but certain. 

The House Corporations, Elections & Political Subdivisions Committee voted 6-3 Wednesday to advance HB 75 after debate and testimony from about a dozen members of the public. Rep. Aaron Clauson (R-Douglas), Rep. Andi Clifford (D-Riverton) and Rep. Jim Roscoe (I-Wilson) cast the three dissenting votes. 

It’s been a three-year process to get momentum behind a voter ID bill, Gray said, acknowledging that support has rocketed among the GOP-controlled Legislature since the 2020 presidential election. 

The purpose of HB 75 is to instill confidence in Wyoming elections, Gray said.

“The overall rule is increased confidence will lead to increased participation,” Gray told committee members.

Critics, however, say the measure seeks a solution to a non-existent threat and could present a new barrier to Wyoming voters who have never been required to present a voter ID at the polls. 

Opponents to HB 75, including Reps. Clauson, Clifford and Roscoe, and several members of the public who testified on Wednesday, worry that HB 75 will potentially turn legitimately registered Wyoming voters away from the polls, and that it essentially seeks to legitimize false and resoundingly debunked claims of widespread election fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

HB 75 would “support the false narrative that our elections currently are insecure and the results are unreliable,” Marguerite Herman of the League of Women Voters of Wyoming said.

“I don’t think that’s true,” Herman added. “I haven’t seen any evidence of it.”

Secretary of State Edward Buchanan credits local election officials and the small-town nature of Wyoming for the extremely low incidents of voter fraud, he said. However, he supports HB 75 as a “proactive” measure to instill confidence among voters.

“Our small population and having those personal relationships, I think, has prevented a fair amount of fraud,” Buchanan told the committee. “If folks ever lose faith in our elections then all is lost because they will lose faith in their government, they will lose faith in law enforcement, they will lose faith in the legislature, in my office [and] anyone that’s in a position of authority.”

Election Judge George Powers sanitizes a voting booth Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, at the Laramie County Community College poll. Due to COVID-19 concerns, Laramie County only opened seven polling locations across Cheyenne and Pine Bluffs. (Michael Cummo/Wyoming Tribune Eagle/Wyoming News Exchange)

Fraud protection or restricted access?

Until now, Wyoming has avoided major changes to the state’s voting laws, bucking against a movement among some states to further restrict registration and voting rules. In 2020, the state passed a law authorizing tribal IDs for voter registration — addressing a long-standing challenge to voter access on the Wind River Indian Reservation.

However, the issue has gathered renewed energy in the wake of allegations of massive voter fraud in the 2020 elections — all debunked, including by the conservative Hoover Institution at Stanford. Still, the GOP — nationally and in Wyoming — has doubled efforts in recent months to push for more restrictions in the name of preventing fraud.

The Wyoming GOP is pushing measures to restrict absentee voting in Wyoming, and in 2020 passed a resolution to “require all voters in any election to provide proof of citizenship and residency upon voter registration and also State approved photo identification at the polling place.”

Cassie Craven, representing Wyoming Liberty Group, said she believes concerns about restricting access to qualified voters under HB 75 can be worked out. Meantime, it’s critical to establish election security measures — such as a voter ID requirement — proactively, she said.

“I don’t support a method of lawmaking that sits back and waits until something is broken before we take initiative to make it right,” Craven told committee members.

What actually undermines Wyoming voters’ faith in the integrity of elections are false claims of voter and election fraud, Equality State Policy Center Executive Director Chris Merrill said. 

“We do not have a voter fraud problem in Wyoming,” Merrill told committee members. “We have a voter participation problem. We should be doing everything we can to encourage and enable more eligible voters to vote.”

Perennial issues

Unlike dozens of states, Wyoming hasn’t enacted more restrictive registration and voting rules in recent years, such as stricter ID requirements or curtailed voting hours and early voting opportunities. However, stricter ID laws and measures to prevent “cross-over” party registration in primary elections are perennial issues before the Wyoming Legislature. 

“In the state of Wyoming, I’m not concerned about fraud,” Crook County Clerk Linda Fritz said during a recent webinar on voter access sponsored by the Equality State Policy Center.

Wyoming’s voter registration regime includes a series of vetting at county election offices, Fritz said. Once registered, a voter does not have to present an ID to vote in-person or by absentee ballot. However, each ballot is scrutinized to ensure there is no duplication or misrepresentation — a felony crime if intentional, she added. 

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“For fraud to be rampant you would have to have major collusion from multiple parties, at least in the state of Wyoming, and I just don’t think there are that many people willing to do that,” Fritz said. 

Fritz did not speak in opposition to HB 75 during the ESPC webinar in February. However, a representative of the Wyoming Association of County Clerks told Wyoming lawmakers Wednesday it is asking for a handful of amendments to HB 75, including:

  • Expanding Wyoming’s 2020 law authorizing tribal ID for voting to include all federally recognized tribal members.
  • Including driver’s licenses issued by all U.S. states and territories as a valid form of voting ID.
  • Including all Wyoming university and community college IDs as valid to cast a vote.

Wyoming AARP, Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation and several other organizations spoke in favor of HB 75 on Wednesday, with some qualifications for wider inclusion of qualifying ID requirements.

“I don’t think we know how much of a [voter/election fraud] problem we have,” Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation Director of Public and Governmental Affairs Brett Moline told committee members. “I don’t think it’s very big,” but HB 75 will help boost voter confidence, he added.

“I will also fight to the death and go anywhere in this state if I were to ever find that someone is disenfranchised or someone who is an eligible voter is not being allowed to vote,” Secretary Buchanan told the committee. “I believe we can have the best of all worlds here. And as long as I’m Secretary of State, I will see to it that every eligible voter is able to vote, and I will also see that our elections have the utmost integrity.”

Dustin Bleizeffer

Dustin Bleizeffer is a Report for America Corps member covering energy and climate at WyoFile. He has worked as a coal miner, an oilfield mechanic, and for 22 years as a statewide reporter and editor primarily...

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  1. Maybe we need to reframe this heinous HB-75 Voter Fraud bill in such a way that no Legislator can argue against and keep a straight face.
    We’ll use their precious and sacred Second Amendment gun rights as the template , to wit :

    ” A well-respected population being necessary for the security of the democratic process , the right of the people to vote shall not be infringed. ”

    HB75 is most definitely an infringement to voter’s rights. QED.

  2. Interesting that there are no comments from Conservatives posted here. Bet this is not a mistake. If the Democraps weren’t doing everything that they can to allow voting by illegal aliens and counting votes from dead people, these safe guards, like proof of residency and citizenship would not be necessary now would they???

    1. Your accusations are unfounded and the dozens of court cases have shown that you believe a lie.

      There was no fraud, the election wasn’t stolen, chrump lost. Accept the facts and live in reality.

      Cheers

    2. Voter fraud is very rare in the US. Election fraud not so much in some locales, but that crime is committed by elected officials, not by voters. Sadly too many people are so gullible and unwilling, or unable, to think for themselves that they believe the lies.

      Thuglicans are peddling nonsense to justify blaming voters for violations that, when they exist, are the crimes of poiliticians, and which should be considered crimes punishable by imprisonment, along with a handbill notifying voters of the crime, name, and address of the politician when such a criminal moves into a new neighborhood after release from serving time. If we’re gonna subject sexual offenders to such treatment, then criminal pols oughta get the same.

  3. This is a horrifying national trend and must be stopped. Scared, out-of-touch Republicans are working hard on voter suppression, tilting at windmills. Give us a platform guys some can discuss real issues please.

  4. It doesn’t matter how many voter suppression laws are passed because from now on the Republicans will always cry foul if they don’t get their way. So sad that cowards run the show.

  5. Be careful what you wish for. Several of Gov. Gordon’s opponents in the last election were extreme, right wing Trump supporters. He is already under attack because he required masks and because he did not support the Texas lawsuit challenging other states’ elections where Biden won. Gov. Gordon rightly said that state sovereignty should be respected. We need to focus on strengthening the Democratic party and voter registration, not bad mouthing the governor. He is a moderate. Be grateful.

  6. Why don’t our Wyoming legislators yield to their hearts’ desire by just passing a law that restricts voting to property-owning white Republican males and get it over with?

    1. They aren’t even trying to be discreet anymore. It would be laughable if it wasn’t so pathetic.

  7. What appalling lemmings–3 cases of voter fraud in 39 years, including a couple who wanted to go elk hunting on Election Day and lied to vote early fraudulently. Sounds like a serious problem–not. I am confident that last year’s election was free and fair on the local, state and nati0nal levels. I am not confident that those who were elected in Wyoming feel any interest in doing the right things for their constituents or the citizens of the state, but rather feel the pressure to tack further and further to the extreme right to hold onto their pitiful minute 0f fame and power.

  8. Wait a minute, is our Republican Legislature saying that the outcome of the last election in Wyoming was fraudulent? If I had a dollar for every time a Legislator said that the best governance comes from those closest to the people I could fund education. Now they are saying we should ignore our County Clerks and accept the Legislature’s assertion that there is an issue with elections in Wyoming. Balderdash, focus on fixing the things that are actually broken instead of creating a solution in search of a problem. It’s time to quit letting ALEC dictate Wyoming legislation.

    It should also be pointed out that of all of the forms of id required, only the Medicare card is issued for free. Since a person is required to buy an id card to vote, does that constitute a poll tax? What next, you have to show your property tax receipt in order vote? Oh wait, I think we’ve been there before.

  9. The constitution amendment XV Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, previous condition of servitude.

    It seems that those who are so worried about voters and need all these rules need to read the constitution.

    People who feel the need to have so many rules are often the people who could think of ways to partake in voter fraud. It takes a lot of effort to participate in bad behavior or coerce bad behavior on someones behalf.

    There are so many “real” issues that Wyoming need to be focused on: taxes, budget, suicide rate, keeping young people engaged in the state, just to name some issues.

  10. I’ve always been suspicious of the lopsided outcome of the 2020 Wyoming presidential election…

    1. “…the lopsided outcome of the 2020 Wyoming…election…”

      Agreed.

      Given the wide margin with which the GOP usually wins Wyoming elections, doesn’t it stand to reason that IF significant fraud occurs (a big IF), then its mostly committed by the people who so easily win?

  11. The person most likely to cheat in an election is a candidate themselves. Most don’t but I think this bill is being pushed by a bunch that are afraid of being taken advantage of by an opponent that is using some method that they themselves think of. I’m thinking of you Donald. I thought the mail-in system used in Wyoming last year worked great. The chances of an individual voter trying to game whatever system is in place is diminishingly small. Perhaps the legislator’s time would be better spent working on their own ethics.

  12. The foundation of our democracy and one of our basic rights as citizens is the right to vote.

    We require a valid ID for just about everything else we do in this country except this critical responsibility as a citizen. I cannot drive, buy a gun, buy alcohol, cash a check, open a bank account, get a job, get on a plane, get a prescription from my pharmacist, in some states file a tax return, in some states buy ammo, buy a can of aerosol paint…..it’s an endless list. Yet our our most basic right and responsibility as citizen is open to anybody that shows up at the polls or that sends in a request for a mail in ballot – no verification required. Yeah, there’s no possible fraud in that.

    1. The “widespread” voter fraud is a figment of smooth brained imaginations.

      Why waste time on a myth when there are actual issues our State NEEDS to address?

      1. I’m not sure how “smooth brained” it is to ask for simple identification to verify you are a resident of the state you are voting in and a citizen of the US. There is very little you can do in the country without an ID – except you basic right as a citizen – voting.

    2. The county for which you register to vote in Wyoming already does this, when you register to vote. If you are not registered to vote, you do not get to vote.

      Provide your valid Wyoming driver’s license;
      If you do not have your current valid driver’s license with you, you must provide the number and additional acceptable identification as noted below;
      If you have not been issued a Wyoming driver’s license or yours is expired, you must provide:
      A statement to that effect (on the Wyoming registration application);
      The last four digits of your social security number; and
      Additional acceptable identification.

      https://sos.wyo.gov/Elections/State/RegisteringToVote.aspx

      This entire bill is a waste of time and energy.

  13. When I registered to vote in Wyoming, I had to provide valid identification at my county clerk’s office. Provided my address doesn’t change, I have only to verbally verify my address to the voting official at the polls and proceed to vote. Every voting fraud allegation put forth before, during, and after the 2020 election has been debunked, and while there are always irregularities, I do not honestly believe it is a problem here in Wyoming. This “Voter ID bill” is a waste of taxpayer money, as well as a waste of time for everyone involved. There are likely other issues that have importance. How about taking care of them?

  14. Next up on the agenda is to pass a law to finally eradicate the millions of nuisance jackalope that we have here in the State

  15. The ‘need’ to “increase confidence in the integrity of our elections” would be fulfilled far easier and far more effectively if the GOP would simply just stop making up lies about the integrity of our elections for cynical selfish and partisan purposes, which is what is undermining that confidence to begin with.

    1. unfortunately, it’s a result of a one party state. The choices are bad and worse. I say we should not re-elect the Governor if he doesn’t veto this bill.

        1. One-party state? Let’s see. Two terms of Reagan as governor. Sixteen straight years of republican governors (Deukmejian and Wilson, then Schwarzenegger after Davis was recalled). The state also went for Nixon twice and Reagan twice for president. California is almost as insular and conservative as Wyoming. They believe in minority rule (2/3 majority required for tax-increase legislative bills), too. I always get a good laugh when people start babbling about how “liberal” the state is.

  16. The Wyoming legislature continues to waste time and money on nonexistent issues while ignoring any real productive solutions to the state problems. Nothing new year.