Wyoming legislators have passed a bill that aims to prevent voters from switching parties to affect primary elections before switching back to their preferred party before a general election.
As reported by the Wyoming Tribune Eagle, House Bill 103 was passed by the Republican-controlled Wyoming legislature, and Republican Governor Mark Gordon allowed it to become law early in March 2023.
In attempt to curtail “crossover voting,” the law requires that voters switch parties before the first day of election filing by candidates for primary elections.
The bill states: “For a primary election, an elector may declare or change party affiliation by completing an application signed before a notarial officer or election official and filing it with the county clerk before the first day on which an application for nomination may be filed under W.S. 22‑5‑209.”
For general elections, voters can only change parties if they request to do so at least two weeks before the vote takes place.
“For a general election, an elector may declare or change his party affiliation by completing an application signed before a notarial officer or election official, and filing it with the county clerk after the primary election and not less than fourteen (14) days before the primary general election or at the polls on the day of the primary or general election, or when requesting an absentee ballot for the general election.”
Before the law passed, voters in the state could declare a new party affiliation at any time at all, even at the polls on Election Day.
However, Governor Gordon declined to sign the bill (it still becomes law), saying that the text is too vague.
“What was delivered to my desk has ambiguity with the potential to deny participation in a major political primary election in a few limited circumstances,” the governor wrote in a letter to House Speaker Albert Sommers.
The changes “will cause some confusion in the coming primary,” the governor added.
Gordon also reportedly described the bill as “perhaps more academic than real.”
Democrat Representative Karlee Provenza criticized the law, saying, “If Republican lawmakers want to suppress your right to vote in the election of your choosing, then gut their party votes of conservative committee seats.”
Republican Chairwoman Mary Martin of Teton County, Wyoming, denied claims of voter suppression, saying simply, “It’s not banning people from voting for a different party person.”
“Ultimately, it is just making sure parties have the opportunity to work within their group to put their best candidates forward,” she added.
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