Wyoming Senate Committee Hears Testimony On Crossover Voting
The Wyoming Senate Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee on Thursday morning took testimony on a bill that aims to discourage crossover voting in Wyoming primary elections, but held-over taking a vote on the proposal until Tuesday.
Committee members also said they would take more testimony on the bill at that time.
Senate File 32 would bar people from changing their party registration in the ten weeks leading up to the primary election. That date coincides with the first day for candidates to file to run in a Wyoming primary.
Many conservative Republicans were angered by a phone campaign leading up to the 2018 Republican Gubernatorial Primary which urged Democrats to register to vote as Republicans. The calls specifically urged Democrats to vote for Mark Gordon to prevent conservative activist Foster Friess from winning the nomination.
Gordon, who was generally believed to be more moderate than Friess, went on to win the GOP nomination and was elected as Wyoming's governor in November.
The committee on Thursday heard from a parade of Republican party officials, legislators, and private citizens urging approval fo the bill, with several accusing Democrats of ''gaming" the system by registering at the last minute to vote in Republican primary elections and then immediately re-registering as Democrats following the primary.
Some committee members expressed concerns about whether the bill might cause Wyoming to lose its exemption from the federal ''Motor Voter" law. That law requires states to let people who apply for drivers licenses or welfare benefits have the opportunity to register to vote at the same time.
Laramie County GOP Chair Darin Smith, a Cheyenne attorney, said after the meeting that he doesn't think that is a legitimate concern, adding other states have similar laws to the one being proposed in Wyoming and have not run afoul of the federal government.
Committee member Sen. Cale Case [R-Fremont County] also questioned whether the bill might violate fundamental voting rights by not allowing people to cast a ballot for the candidate of their choice in Wyoming primary elections. In his remarks, Case recalled that many of the nation's founding fathers did not anticipate the rise of political parties when the U.S. Constitution was written.
The bill's primary sponsor is Sen. Bo Biteman [R-Ranchester], who was among those testifying in favor of the bill Thursday morning.