By Rod Miller, columnist
When Representative Chip Neiman presented his pledge to fellow Republicans to sign (see last week’s column), he offered this rationale, “for decades Wyoming has struggled with primary election integrity”. Lets fact check that statement.
Since the 2014 election cycle, according to my county clerk, there have only been four or five examples of voter fraud in Wyoming. And every one was caught. These cases involved a few individuals who, having been convicted of a felony, tried to vote without having their voting rights restored.
That’s it, a handful of fraudulent votes among the million and a half votes cast by legitimate Wyoming voters since 2014. The numbers themselves prove Rep. Neiman’s claim about election integrity is a falsehood.
“Election integrity” is a term used as a straw man, or red herring, by the Wyoming Republican Party power elites in their attempts to do away with crossover voting in our primary elections. The security of our voting process has nothing to do with it. Its all about consolidating power within one of Wyoming’s political parties.
Lets be honest; the practice of crossover voting is completely legal under our election code, but its also a gnarly burr under the GOP’s saddle. And Neiman’s ill-advised pledge is but one more dead rabbit the GOP has pulled out of its hat in its attempt ban it to gain an electoral edge.
To be fair, its not the entire Wyoming GOP that supports this nonsense. It is a brittle, populist wedge of the party that is behind it.
But, when a Wyoming Republican pokes fun at their brazen tactics, they are immediately labeled a RINO. This has absolutely nothing to do with election integrity, but everything to do with intra-party politics.
Neiman and his ilk claim that recent elections wherein moderate Republicans have been elected have not “represented the will of Wyoming people”. Horseshit!
Every one of the million and a half votes cast since the 2014 election has been cast by a registered Wyoming voter. Well, except tor those four or five knuckle-headed felons we already discussed. So, to claim that the political will of Wyoming’s people was not expressed during recent elections is simply a lie.
To cloak their drive for partisan hegemony, the arch-conservative wing of the Wyoming Republican Party spouts off about “election integrity” and that should offend every honest voter in Wyoming. We should be doubly offended by the GOP’s attempts to use Wyoming’s election code for partisan advantage.
Our Wyoming Constitution states in Article 1, Sec. 3, “… the laws of this state affecting the political rights and privileges of its citizens shall be without distinction of race, color, sex, or any circumstance or condition whatsoever other than individual incompetency, or unworthiness duly ascertained by a court of competent jurisdiction.” That’s bad news for felons, and for political parties that want to use our laws to gain an edge.
But don’t expect Rep. Neiman’s gambit to be the last attempt. Neiman rode into office on a small wave of populist candidates who pledged to toe the line of the GOP hierarchy, and he was their flag-bearer on this fiasco. There will be more attempts by a private political organization to use our public laws to negate political opponents.
To characterize Neiman’s pledge as a freshman error is to gloss over the real threat to election integrity in Wyoming – one political party trying to hijack our electoral process. THAT is dangerous stuff, friends and neighbors.
And the word around the ol’ campfire is that Neiman has his eyes on Senator Ogden Driskill’s seat, wanting to bring his populist brand of politics to that upper house. Forewarned is forearmed.