By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily
The Wyoming Secretary of State last week cautioned the Cheney campaign against using “official election” language on campaign literature after her campaign funded a mass mailing of absentee ballot request forms throughout Wyoming.
“We did have contact with (the Cheney campaign) last week just to let them know we were receiving calls and to caution them against using ‘official election’ language on the mailers,” said Monique Meese, spokeswoman for Wyoming Secretary of State Ed Buchanan, in a Monday email to Cowboy State Daily.
“Some recipients thought that (the mailers) came from the Secretary of State or the County Clerk,” Meese added.
Voters in every Wyoming county last week received absentee ballot request forms on Cheney’s behalf, each printed with the words “OFFICIAL ELECTION DOCUMENT ENCLOSED,” and pre-addressed to voters’ respective county clerks.
The forms were sent in envelopes that read “OPEN IMMEDIATELY!” and “Wyoming Absentee Ballot Request Form Enclosed.”
“Paid for by Liz Cheney for Wyoming,” read the upper right-hand corner of the absentee ballot request forms.
Meese did not know how Cheney obtained the form but noted that it’s available for download on the Secretary of State’s website. Every county website also links to the Secretary of State’s page where the form can be found, she said.
Cheney spokesman Jeremy Adler did not respond Friday afternoon or Monday morning to texted questions and a Friday voicemail. The Cheney campaign’s email address also yielded no response Monday morning.
Fremont County Clerk Julie Freese told Cowboy State Daily on Friday that before Cheney’s mailers, she hadn’t seen candidates send out absentee forms in several years.
The practice is perfectly legal, however, Freese noted.
When it was a more common tactic, candidates would coordinate with the county clerks’ offices so that multiple absentee request forms didn’t cross in the mail, Freese said, adding that her office did not find out about the Cheney mailer until after it was dispatched.
Still, the elections system in place informs officials when a person already has an absentee ballot, said Freese. This is designed to prevent double voting even if multiple request forms arrive for the same person.
From Jan. 1, 2021 to July 27 of this year, Cheney’s principal campaign committee Liz Cheney for Wyoming has spent nearly $7.8 million in operating expenditures, according to FEC data.
The cost to send the mailers, however, was not readily available through the Federal Election Commission as its line-item breakdown only shows expenses through late June.