Reyna-Pugh: Wyoming’s Hispanic and Latino voters should not be used as political pawns

Election integrity is a nonpartisan issue, and efforts to safeguard the sanctity of our electoral process should transcend political affiliations. By framing a nonpartisan process in partisan terms, Wyoming’s Secretary of State Chuck Gray risks undermining the consensus necessary to enact meaningful reforms to protect and uplift our elections.

In a press release from April 12, Secretary Gray expressed his disagreement with Gov. Mark Gordon’s decision to veto amendments to Chapter 2 of the Secretary of State’s Election Procedures. While his assertions that election integrity is vital are valid, his proposed measures risk disenfranchising legitimate voters.

First and foremost, non-U.S. citizens are already prohibited from voting in Wyoming, specifically laid out in the Wyoming Constitution. The law is clear on this matter, and we have established systems to handle instances of voter fraud or illegal voting. The suggestion that Gov. Gordon’s rejection of the rules would pave the way for ineligible voters to vote is unfounded and misleading.

It’s essential to note that Hispanic and Latino community members, like all U.S. citizens, have the right to vote. We are hardworking individuals who contribute to our communities and should not be used as pawns in political agendas. The Chair Project, launched by Equality State Policy Center in 2022, is a testament to the commitment of Hispanic and Latino communities to participate in civic life and exercise our voting rights granted by the Wyoming Constitution.

Gov. Gordon’s wise decision to halt Secretary Gray’s proposal prevented further disenfranchisement of eligible voters, especially individuals from marginalized communities who encounter obstacles in acquiring valid IDs, such as the demanding prerequisites needed. This could be due to challenges like homelessness, fleeing domestic violence situations, or various other circumstances that make proving residency difficult.

If adopted, the proposal would have subjected Hispanic, Latino and other marginalized communities to discriminatory citizenship checks, compounding the challenges we already face in proving our identity through the existing secure and rigorous process.

Instead of resorting to divisive and hateful rhetoric and overstated concerns about voter fraud, Wyoming — and the Secretary of State elected to represent all Wyoming voters — should focus on implementing evidence-based solutions that enhance election security without compromising voter rights. This could include investing in voter education initiatives, modernizing voter registration systems with the addition of Motor Voter or online voter registration, or striving to make our primaries more accessible to everyday, hardworking Wyoming voters.

View full op-ed at the Wyoming Tribune Eagle.

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