June 18th, 2024

Yet again, the Equality State Policy Center (ESPC) Coalition is responding to inflammatory and misguided media releases from the Wyoming Secretary of State, Chuck Gray. 

On June 5th, the Secretary of State issued a directive, an official instruction, to county clerks to discontinue the use of ballot drop boxes in Wyoming. 

Ballot drop boxes are a proven safe and accessible means of voting in Wyoming. Ballot boxes often have 24/7 video surveillance, are tamper-proof, and employ a bipartisan and secure method of collection. 

Ballot boxes allow Wyomingites to return their absentee ballots securely before 8 am and after 5 pm during the voting season. This ensures voters can cast their ballots securely and conveniently. Ballot boxes offer essential flexibility for citizens who work during the day with limited breaks or transportation, and they also support those requiring accessibility assistance, those who depend on others for help, and individuals with caretaking responsibilities. 

The argument that Secretary Gray gives against drop boxes hinges on a narrow interpretation of the Wyoming Election Code. However, the law allows for completed absentee ballots to be “mailed or delivered to the clerk,” a provision that does not prohibit the use of drop boxes. 

Meanwhile, the County Clerks’ Association of Wyoming (CCAW) – whose members are the folks who manage our on the ground elections – and many legal experts assert that drop boxes fall within the permissible means of delivery to clerks, as they are essentially an extension of the clerk’s office.

At this time, the county clerks have stated they will continue to leave this decision in the hands of the 23 county clerks across the state. Voters can contact their county clerk to see if their county will use ballot boxes this upcoming election.

It is disappointing that Secretary Gray continues to target Wyoming voter rights – hitting veterans, marginalized communities, ranchers, and our rural voters the hardest. As the most dispersed state in the contiguous U.S., we need better efforts to get a representative group of voters to the polls. Initiatives like efforts to educate our voters on law changes, online voter registration, or making our Primary Elections more accessible to the average Wyoming voter are all notable causes that the Secretary of State could consider. We find ourselves continuously thankful for our hardworking county clerks in Wyoming.

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