By Leo Wolfson, political reporter
The State of Wyoming has asked a judge to throw out a lawsuit contesting its new voter ID law.
The lawsuit says that by passing the state’s voter ID law, which was enacted in 2021, Wyoming’s legislators violated multiple sections of Wyoming’s Constitution.
The voter ID law continued the requirement that was in place before the law was enacted for voters to show a government-issued ID when registering to vote. It also added a requirement to show an ID when voting. The addition is what is being targeted by the lawsuit.
The lawsuit filed in Albany County District Court by former legislator Charles Pelkey on behalf of Wyoming attorney Tim Newcomb, alleges the new law infringes on citizens’ ability to vote.
In a filing submitted to the court, Wyoming Deputy Attorney General Brandi Monger accuses Newcomb of failing to “allege any factors to support his requested relief” aside from his argument that the state already has photos on file of every voter through driver’s licenses and other IDs.
“All other statements are legal propositions, citing various statutes, court cases, constitutional provisions, or no authority at all,” Monger wrote in the July 5 filing asking the judge to dismiss the case. “Notably, the amended complaint contains no allegations concerning Newcomb, including any allegations that any state law has harmed him in any way or establishing jurisdiction and venue in this court.”
Wyoming law requires a plea to state a basis for the court’s jurisdiction of a case, wrongs a claimant has suffered and what the claimant demands in relief.
Monger mentioned three different Wyoming Supreme Court cases where the justices have distinguished between cases where litigants sought declaratory judgment for uncertain or speculative harm rather than present and existing controversy.
“The Wyoming Supreme Court relied on the well-established principle that the courts should only act where there is an actual controversy to resolve,” Monger wrote.
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.
This argument takes the line of logic that the plaintiffs need to provide an example of an individual who was prevented from voting that should have been legally allowed. Since there have been no major elections in Wyoming since the law was enacted in July 2021, harm would likely be difficult to prove at this juncture.
“Newcomb simply has not pleaded facts that, if true, establish that he was harmed- or, indeed, affected in any way- by the statute at issue,” Monger wrote. “Neither has he pleaded facts plausibly alleging any non-speculative future harm he will sustain. He asks for an advisory opinion.”
Detractors of the ID bill argued while it was being considered that voter fraud in Wyoming is a non-existent problem and the legislation would subdue voter turnout.
Pelkey told Cowboy State Daily in April that the lawsuit was intended to show that there was no “fundamental” need for the law to be enacted.