By Leo Wolfson, political reporter
Representatives from a Park County civil liberty advocacy group are opposing a consideration in the county to hand count ballots from the 2020 election.
“There is an undue privilege being allowed to this group or any other group to recount,” said Renee Tafoya, a representative with Wyoming Rising, during a Park County commissioner meeting on Tuesday.
In May, the Park County Commissioners said they would consider allowing a group of local citizens to hand count the more than 17,000 ballots cast in the 2020 election in that county to determine the accuracy of the results presented by the machines.
Bryan Skoric, Park County prosecuting attorney, said he would seek guidance from the Wyoming Attorney General’s Office on the matter. At the commissioner meeting on Tuesday, the commissioners said they still had not heard back from the AG.
The proposal submitted by Cody resident Boone Tidwell and the Park County Republican Men’s Club, which later changed its name to The Sons of Freedom, was to test the accuracy of voting machines by hand counting every single ballot cast in this year’s county primary and general elections. That request was rejected, but a second proposition to count the 2020 results is still on the table.
No other Wyoming county has given this level of consideration to a hand count, but several counties around the country have recently decided to start making steps toward doing so, and certain locations already count their votes this way.
Tafoya and Phyllis Roseberry, both members of the Wyoming Rising leadership team, said allowing the hand count would be a waste of taxpayer money and create suspicion and doubt where none should exist. They also warned the commissioners about possible legal action they could incur if granting approval for the hand count but provided no legal testimony to substantiate this argument.
“To grant this group would cast doubt onto the Secretary of State’s Office and the entire election,” Roseberry warned.
The cost of doing a hand count could actually be minimal to the county, as Tidwell said his group will commit to not accepting any payment for the training they would receive to become election judges, a necessary requirement to inspect the ballots. But, county staff would still have to spend time and wages training these individuals.
MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, a vocal proponent of former President Donald Trump’s stolen 2020 election claims, recently said those who don’t believe the Wyoming election was rigged are traitors.
Tidwell said previously, he has grave concerns there will be a low turnout for this year’s elections due to lack of trust. Tafoya expressed doubt about this claim and said there are “thousands” of people in Wyoming who trust current election security.
“It’s meant to undermine trust in elections,” Tafoya said of the hand ballot proposal. “The claims of fraud are out of left field; they’re trying to cast doubt instead of trying to actually find fraud.”
Tidwell described Tafoya and Roseberry’s presentation as “fear porn.”
“No substance. Full of lies,” he said.
The commissioners held no discussion in response, but Commissioner Joe Tilden said he agrees with Roseberry and Tafoya.