By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
Natrona County Republicans are chiding the state Republican Party for criticism of the state’s county clerks for clerical errors.
The party, in a resolution adopted by its central committee Sept. 16, expressed support for clerks and criticized the state party for trying to create the impression there is a problem with Wyoming’s election system.
“(The) Natrona County Republican Party rejects any statement and/or effort by statewide Republican Party leadership which undermines, disparages or otherwise casts doubt upon the Wyoming election process,” said the resolution. “(The) Natrona County Republican Party cannot support the state Republican Party’s efforts to misinform the general public of a problem that does not exist.”
The resolution stems from a review of Laramie County election results conducted by the state GOP, said Dr. Joseph McGinley, a state committeeman for the Natrona County Republican Party.
The review revealed errors in the way the county clerk calculated how many precinct committee people would be elected from some precincts.
Laramie County’s clerk apologized for the error and pledged to put safeguards in place to prevent such problems in the future, but McGinley said members of the state party are attempting to use the error to imply there are widespread problems with the state’s election system.
“I agree, it should be accurate, but we’re all human and mistakes can happen,” he said. “County clerks are hard working individuals … they are very busy and they are doing very good work in the community. To have this kind of unnecessary public attack is unfortunate.”
Rather than announcing the errors publicly, the state GOP should have approached the county clerk herself to raise the issue, McGinley added.
“You don’t … put it out publicly and say they’re doing a bad job,” he said. “That’s not the way you do things and it undermines the integrity of the clerk’s office.”
As a result, Natrona County Republicans felt compelled to issue a statement of support for county clerks and point out that according to Secretary of State Ed Buchanan, there have only been three instances of election fraud in Wyoming since 2000.
“We said ‘We appreciate the way you are doing things in Natrona County and more generally across the state,’” he said. “There are no widespread election irregularities. It’s really commendable that the county clerks have done such a good job over the years.”
The resolution will be submitted to the state Republican Party’s central committee for discussion during its meeting in November.
However, McGinley said because the state party orchestrated the review of Laramie County’s election process, he does not believe the resolution will win the central committee’s approval.
“They’re the ones that arranged the targeted approach to the Laramie County clerk to begin with,” he said. “I believe they won’t be amenable to the approach we took.”