A bill that would put limits on when voters can change their party affiliations got mixed reviews Thursday in its first session in a Senate committee.
The Senate Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee began its work on SF 32, which would require voters changing party affiliation to do so before the filing period opens for political candidates — usually in May.
Currently, voters can change their affiliations as late as the day of the primary. In last year’s election, the Secretary of State’s office reported an estimated 12,500 voters changed their party affiliations.
After last year’s primary election, Wyoming Republicans made the issue of party switching a top priority.
Frank Eathorne, Wyoming Republican Party chairman, said the bill would make sure political parties can select their own nominees without interference.
“It’s about party integrity,” he said. “Parties are not governmental entities. We are private entities. And we have that destiny in our hands and that decision making is up to us.”
However, Nina Herbert, communications director for the Wyoming Democratic Party, said voters need to be given the chance to vote for the candidate they feel is best suited for office, regardless of party affiliation.
“The Wyoming Democratic Party supports open elections that are easily accessible to every eligible voter,” she said. “Jut throwing up another roadblock on party affiliation changes is not going to accomplish that.”
The committee was unable to complete its work on the bill Thursday and will continue its review next week.