By Ellen Fike and Leo Wolfson, Cowboy State Daily
A lawsuit filed in state district court this week accuses Wyoming’s legislators of violating multiple sections of Wyoming’s Constitution with the state’s new voter ID law.
The lawsuit filed in Albany County District Court by former legislator Charles Pelkey on behalf of Tim Newcomb said the law requiring voters to show identification when casting their ballots infringes on the ability of citizens to vote.
“We’re interested in protecting people’s access to the ballot and getting access to the ballot should be as easy and convenient as possible,” Pelkey told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday. “Across the country, not only in Wyoming, we need to be challenging these efforts, otherwise we’re going to lose out on so many rights.”
The voter ID law was enacted through House Bill 75 in 2021, which not only continues the existing requirement for voters to show a government-issued ID when registering to vote, but adds the requirement to show an ID when voting. The addition is what is being targeted by the lawsuit.
The filing argued the ID law violates the “constitutional right essential to suffrage both in passage and operation” and is a “trammel against voting rights.”
He told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday that the lawsuit was intended to show that there was no “fundamental” need for the law to be enacted.
“There’s no reason why you should challenge voters when they’re attempting to express their democratic vote,” Pelkey said. “Like it says in the lawsuit, we thank people for serving on a jury. I think we should thank people for exercising the right to vote.”
However, Rep. Chuck Gray (Casper-R), lead sponsor of the bill, called the lawsuit “another example of how the radical left wants to cheat in elections.”
Gray noted the bill was approved in both chambers — by a vote of 51-9 in the House and 28-2 in the Senate —- before being signed into law by Gov. Mark Gordon.
“The radical left is trying to challenge a legally passed law,” he said.
Detractors of the bill argued while it was being considered that voter fraud in Wyoming is a non-existent problem and the legislation would subdue voter turnout.
Wyoming is one of 35 states to have a voter ID law and one of 20 states to require a photo ID. The law went into effect last fall for local elections but will be tested on a much broader scale this year.
In the lawsuit, Pelkey also alludes to the state having the technology available for poll workers to access a photo ID that was used during the registration process rather than making the voter provide it again in-person.
“This is not the last century,” the lawsuit said. “State government needs to show why the first acceptable photo ID cannot display automatically to the poll workers when people vote, so voters can be welcomed and thanked for voting – rather than challenged.”
An Associated Press review of the 2020 presidential election conducted in 2021 found fewer than 475 potential voter fraud cases in six battleground states.