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GOP Governor Vetoes Rule Requiring Wyomingites To Prove Residency To Register To Vote

Wyoming law requires voters to be state residents, but would-be voters are currently just required to provide proof of identity, according to the secretary of state.

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Wyoming’s Republican Gov. Mark Gordon on Friday vetoed a set of rules proposed by Secretary of State Chuck Gray that would have required prospective voters to prove their Wyoming residency to register to vote.

Wyoming’s election code says voters must be both state residents and U.S. citizens. But would-be voters are currently just required to provide proof of identity, according to the secretary of state’s office.

Gray proposed the new rules as amendments to Chapter 2 of the Secretary of State’s Election Procedures.

Under the proposed rules, voters could prove their residency with either a driver’s license, passport, federal identification card, photo identification from a Wyoming public school or university, a military card, an identification card given to a military dependent, or a tribal identification card. These documents are also used to currently prove identity. 

If an individual did not have one of the aforementioned identification forms but could “provide…their Wyoming driver’s license number and any two” of a list of other documents, any of those documents with a Wyoming address on it would “constitute proof of Wyoming residency.” The documents include a social security card, birth certificate, or a military draft record, among other options. Voters without a driver’s license could also provide the last four digits of their Social Security number along with two of the aforementioned documents.

Gray’s proposed rules also mandated that “No person shall be allowed to register to vote if their presented identification contains any indication that they are not a citizen of the United States.”

During the public comment period, the secretary of state’s office received “approximately 485 written comments regarding the proposed rules package,” according to a letter from Deputy Secretary of State Jesse Naiman.

“Of the written comments received, approximately 280 were in favor of the proposed rules as written, approximately 180 were opposed to the rule as written,” and the other comments were neither opposed nor in favor, according to Naiman’s letter.

But Gordon argued the proposal falls outside of the scope of the secretary of state’s office.

Gordon claimed “Wyoming’s elections are safe and secure” and “while there may always be room to improve Wyoming’s election laws, this responsibility lies in the purview of the legislative branch.” He insisted it was “inaccurate” to say that there is currently “no mechanism for ensuring voters do not misrepresent their residency” but acknowledged Wyoming law “may not currently allow county clerks to require documentary proof of residency at registration.”

“Unless and until the legislature grants the Secretary of State more explicit authority allowing for rulemaking to add to those statutory requirements at the time of registration, I believe these rules are a breach of the separation of powers with the legislative branch,” Gordon continued in his veto letter. The Wyoming Legislature’s Management Council also recommended Gordon reject the proposal on the grounds that Gray lacks the authority to make the changes.

Gray argues that “Wyoming statute not only allows for the rule, but actually calls for it.”

Wyoming statute “expressly defines the registration process as requiring ‘verification of the name and voter information of a qualified elector.’ The rule provided for a process to verify an individual’s attestation that they are a resident of Wyoming,” Gray said in a statement. “And it also fulfilled the statutory requirement that no person would be allowed to register to vote if their identification contains any indication that they are not a U.S. citizen.”

Wyoming’s election code further states the secretary of state “shall prepare written directives and instructions relating to and based on the election laws” and “shall promulgate such rules as are necessary to maintain uniform voting and vote counting procedures and orderly voting.”

“Wyoming elections should be decided by Wyomingites, NOT illegal immigrants,” Gray continued. “Governor Gordon’s veto makes it easier for illegal aliens and non-residents to illegally vote, which is deeply disturbing.”


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