Four bills in the Wyoming House and Senate are working to secure absentee voting by restricting the number of ballots and requiring a photo I.D. to obtain one – which the A.C.L.U. sees as restricting democracy.
Voting rights are one of the highest priorities in the 67th Wyoming Legislature, still underway in Cheyenne. With several bills winding their way through both houses, the American Civil Liberties Union (A.C.L.U) of Wyoming is opposing new efforts to restrict absentee voting.
“Absentee voting is a safe, secure, and effective way for Wyomingites to vote,” the release reads. “But a number of bills up for debate in the Wyoming legislature would add unnecessary restrictions on obtaining and casting an absentee ballot and will not make Wyoming elections more secure but rather make it harder for people to vote.”
“These actions could A.C.L.U.cularly onerous for rural voters who would otherwise have to travel long distances to vote in person and for working people with families who can’t take time off to vote.”
The A.C.L.U. of Wyoming also claims the bills “risk supersizing the issues of racial discrimination and disenfranchisement that Black, Hispanic, and other voters of color have already spent generations fighting.”
There are four specific bills the A.C.L.U. of Wyoming is referencing that deal with changes to absentee voting:
- House Bill 211 would limit who can collect absentee ballots and how many they can return to county election offices.
- “Returning absentee ballots for other people is an effective way to ensure more people are able to participate in democracy.”
- Senate File 131 would prohibit a person from distributing unsolicited absentee ballot request forms to any qualified elector.
- “Like voter registration drives, distributing absentee ballot request forms is an effective way to promote the availability of absentee voting.
- House Bill 219 and House Bill 279 would add an I.D. requirement to absentee bI.D.D.lot requests.
- “I.D.ter ID laws deprive many voters of their right to vote, reduce participation and stand in direct opposition to our country’s trend of including more Americans in the democratic process.”
“Because nothing is more sacred to our democracy than the right to vote, our elected officials should be doing everything they can to encourage people to vote – not making it harder, as these bills adding more restrictions to absentee voting would do,” said Antonio Serrano, ACLU of Wyoming advocacy director.
“Elections are central to our democracy. Whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, a liberal or a conservative, you should want a fair system. Adding barriers to obtaining or returning an absentee ballot limits the ability of all Wyomingites to participate in democracy.”
As of Tuesday, Feb. 7:
- House Bill 211 has not made it onto the House Floor.
- Senate File 131 passed in the Senate and introduced into the House.
- House Bill 219 has been referred to the House Corporations Committee.
- House Bill 279 passed in the House.