Archive | 2016

ESPC & ACLU: Cease-and-Desist Unconstitutional Policy Discriminating Against Wyoming Voters

CHEYENNE, WY – The Equality State Policy Center (ESPC) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) delivered a cease-and-desist letter to Wyoming Secretary of State Ed Murray on Friday morning urging him to immediately end the discriminatory and unconstitutional policy of suspending the right to vote for an unknown number of Wyoming citizens. 

 The letter highlights the discriminatory practice by the Wyoming Secretary of State’s office, which violates both the United States Constitution and Wyoming Statute. It quotes the 2014 ruling McCutcheon v. FEC saying, “There is no right more basic in our democracy than the right to participate in electing our political leaders…” and the 2006 case Boustani v. Blackwell asserting,There is no such thing as a second-class citizen or a second-class American.”

“Every eligible Wyomingite that wants to vote, should be able to,” said Bri Jones with the Equality State Policy Center. “We’ve set up a Voter Hotline at (307) 314-2258. Anyone that encounters a problem casting a ballot early, absentee, or on Election Day should call the hotline immediately.”

Voters can cast ballots early at their County Clerk’s office or on Election Day next Tuesday, November 8th from 7 AM – 7 PM. A polling place locator and additional information can be found at EqualityState.org/WeVote.

The full letter can be accessed here.

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Vote By Mail Elections for Wyoming?

Written by Brooke Nisely

On September 15th the Joint Interim Corporations Committee met in Saratoga. One topic considered was changing the way Wyoming elections are administered by moving entirely to Vote By Mail (VBM) at the suggestion of the Wyoming County Clerks Association.

Currently three states conduct elections solely by mail (Oregon, Washington, and Colorado) and many have permanent VMB status as an option for voters. ESPC testified in favor of a VBM system because it increases voter turnout, simplifies the voting process, and because it saves taxpayer dollars.

A study conducted in 2003[1] on Oregon VBM resulted in significant results. The study found that 80.9% of individuals from every demographic prefer VBM. Women, the disabled, homemakers and those aged 26 to 38 reported to vote more often due to VBM. The study also indicated that VBM has no partisan advantage as a consequence of heightened voter turnout nor was there a difference between rural and urban voters.

In Washington[2], the former Secretary of State Sam Reed and current Secretary of State Kim Wyden, have take strong stances in support of VBM after a report was released in 2007. The report concluded that Washington’s VBM system boosted turnout, improved election accuracy and saved money.

A democracy operates at its full capacity with full citizen participation. Wyoming already has one of the most accessible legislatures in the country but we should be proactive in championing this Wyoming attribute. ESPC fully supports policies that allow maximum opportunity for civic engagement.

In addition to increased turnout and accessibility, VBM saves money and makes elections more affordable to administer. The Pew Center for States[3] found in two studies that if Colorado sent all registered voters ballots by mail they could cut cost by $1.05 per registered voter, and after the initial $1.5 million initial investment, Colorado would save $5 million over two fiscal years.

To review, Wyoming would benefit from a vote by mail system in three major ways: 

  • VBM would increase voter turnout,
  • make elections more accessible, and
  • save limited state and local resources.
At ESPC we believe in pushing our state government to better serve its citizens and we see VBM as a step forward to doing so.

The Joint Corporations Committee voted to not address VBM in the 2017 General Legislative Session and plans to return to the issue as an interim topic.

Additional Resources:

Wyoming County Clerks’ Association – Mail Ballot Election Pros and Cons
Wyoming County Clerks’ Association – Election Costs Survey Summary



[1]
http://www.prc.gov/docs/69/69897/Southwell%20Summary%20Report.pdf

[2] Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed. “Washington State’s Vote-By-Mail Experience.” 2007

[3] Cuciti, P. “Changing the Way Colorado Votes.” Pew Center on the States. 2012

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