Nonpartisan groups, dems object to Gray’s proposed voter residency rules change

By Maggie Mullen,  Dec 26, 2023 Updated Dec 26, 2023 –

Secretary of State Chuck Gray’s proposed changes to the voter registration process exceed the scope of his office’s authority, two nonpartisan voter advocacy groups and the Wyoming Democratic Party say. 

The organizations are also concerned about the timing of the proposed rule changes ahead of the 2024 election and the risk that the changes will disenfranchise rightful voters. All three groups have formally requested a public hearing on the matter. 

Under current regulations, residents must provide proof of identity to register to vote in Wyoming. Gray is proposing through an executive rulemaking process that voters also be required to provide proof of residency when registering. 

He previously told WyoFile the proposed rules would ensure that only Wyoming residents decide Wyoming’s elections. Gray says the proposal was partly initiated by the state’s county clerks. The County Clerks’ Association of Wyoming has yet to formally weigh in but Platte County Clerk Malcolm Ervin told WyoFile the group is not quite satisfied with the proposed rule but appreciated working with the secretary of state’s office on it. 

Evidence suggests the state’s elections are already secure and decided by legitimate Wyoming voters. There have been just three instances of voter fraud in Wyoming since 2000, according to a database created by The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. 

A public hearing for a proposed rules change is mandatory if requested by 25 people or an organization representing at least 25 people, according to Wyoming’s Administrative Rule Review Handbook. All three groups — the Democratic Party, the League of Women Voters of Wyoming and the Equality State Policy Center — meet that membership criteria. 

Thursday afternoon, the Secretary of State’s office announced it had scheduled a public hearing for 1 p.m. on Jan. 26 at the Capitol Extension Conference Center Auditorium in Cheyenne. Members of the public can also attend virtually by registering via Zoom.

“Public comment is pivotal to the rulemaking process, and we’ve been very excited about the public engagement we’ve received and look forward to continuing to receive,” Gray told WyoFile on Thursday.