A plan to create a runoff election system was rejected by the Wyoming House of Representatives on Thursday.
Representatives voted not to introduce House Joint Resolution 3, a proposed constitutional amendment that was part of a two-bill effort to hold a runoff election when one candidate in a primary race for office receives less than 50% of the votes cast.
Rep. Chip Neiman, R-Hulett, said he has heard from many constituents they do not like the fact that a party’s candidate for office in a general election may not have received more than half the votes cast in the primary.
“Folks in the country are very interested in being able to select a candidate that would represent them that would have more than just a plurality of the vote,” he said while arguing in support of the bill. “They would like to see a person represent them with at least a majority-plus-1 vote to go on.”
Neiman had also proposed House Bill 74, which would set up the runoff system to be held in cases where the winner of the primary receives less than half the votes cast, as has happened in crowded primaries in the past. The runoff would feature the top two finishers in the race.
“If you would have the candidate who leads with 30% of the vote, that would tell us 70% of the folks of that party did not support that candidate,” he said. “I think we owe those people an opportunity to decide if they want to be able to have a runoff, take the two people and then make that decision.”
The proposed constitutional amendment would have built extra time into the election schedule to allow for a runoff election, if necessary, between the primary election and the general.
However, opponents to Neiman’s proposal said a runoff system was not needed.
“This is trying to fix a problem that does not exist,” said Rep. Pat Sweeney, R-Casper.
With the death of the joint resolution, Neiman said he would not pursue HB74 this year.
“(I am) disappointed that the voters will not have the chance to vote on this, but undaunted, we will bring it back in the hope the voters will have an opportunity to vote their desires,” he told Cowboy State Daily.