As the 2020 presidential election devolved into chaos, the State of Wyoming stood above it all. While preposterous conspiracy theories about fraudulent voting machines, etc., circulated like …
As the 2020 presidential election devolved into chaos, the State of Wyoming stood above it all. While preposterous conspiracy theories about fraudulent voting machines, etc., circulated like wildfire, there was widespread agreement that Wyoming got things right.
Secretary of State Ed Buchanan, who oversaw the election, called it “nearly flawless,” while Gov. Mark Gordon said he “could not be more proud of Wyoming’s electoral process, both in terms of security and the ability for Wyomingites to cast their vote.”
Despite the pandemic, more Wyomingites than ever participated in our democractic process last year, and their votes were accurately counted by a network of county clerks and election workers across the state.
Wyoming uses a variety of measures to prevent fraud and ensure each vote is counted correctly: machines are disconnected from the internet, paper ballots remain available for auditing, absentee ballots are carefully tracked and verified, among other precautions.
At a Park County Republican Party meeting last month, Vice Chairman Bob Ferguson commended the county clerk’s office for its work on the election, explaining how much he’d learned through his training as a 2020 election judge.
“I honestly went into that very skeptical and I came away with a much better feeling about the security of Wyoming’s elections,” Ferguson said.
You know a system is set up correctly when people become more confident as they learn more about it.
But while there is nothing wrong with our state’s election processes, we can still take steps to make it better — including by requiring voters to show identification when they vote.
Although we’re confident that fraud in Wyoming is minimal, requiring an ID would add an additional layer of protection and yet another reason for the public to trust the state’s elections.
Speaking at the Republican meeting last month, Park County Clerk Colleen Renner indicated that she didn’t feel it was necessary to require an ID at the polls, because you must show one when you register to vote. But the clerk was still supportive of the idea, to double-check that people are who they say they are.
For one thing, “Our county has grown tremendously in the last six to eight months; we don’t know our neighbors like we used to know our neighbors,” Renner said.
Further, the clerk said it could simplify the process for election judges, who could look at a name on an official document instead of just asking and listening for a person’s name.
Of course, security is not the only concern in an election, as the measures must be balanced with the need to ensure it remains simple to cast a ballot. From offering citizens the options to vote early, to request an absentee ballot and vote by mail or to even register and vote at the polls on Election Day, Wyoming has made voting extremely easy.
However, a voter ID requirement doesn’t need to make that process much harder. A bill currently making its way through the Wyoming Legislature, House Bill 75, would allow residents to show one of any number of documents at the polls to prove their identity: a driver’s license, state ID card, a passport, military card, a tribal identification card, Medicare insurance card or a Wyoming college ID.
That long list of acceptable identification offers more than enough flexibility for voters — especially with a provision that allows anyone to obtain a free Wyoming ID card for voting. In short, legislators have crafted a bill that can further enhance the security of our elections without disenfranchising anyone. That’s a step worth taking.
Underscoring its common sense approach, HB 75 passed the Wyoming House by a wide margin last week, 51-9. We hope the Senate follows suit.