By Leo Wolfson, State Politics Reporter
Abortion and women’s reproductive rights were the most common issues brought up by the 10 voters Cowboy State Daily spoke with at Storey Gym in Cheyenne on Tuesday afternoon.
“We should quit telling women how they should use their bodies,” said Lee Willms. “Girls should not be forced to carry the babies of rape or incest in their bodies.”
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe V. Wade. The status of abortion in Wyoming is still being considered as the state’s trigger law that made nearly all abortions illegal is being appealed in District Court in Teton County.
Bob Brackett is pro life on abortion. He said he was nearly aborted as doctors at a Navy military base his mother was stationed at falsely diagnosed him as stillborn.
“Thankfully, she said if there was something wrong with me, she would know it,” Brackett said. “I was born and I was completely fine. I believe in the sanctity of life. It really hits home for me.”
Grace Anne said abortion rights, civil rights and voting rights are her most passionate issues in this election. Although she doesn’t approve of abortion on a personal level, she said she doesn’t want the decision left up to “some guy in an office building.”
Jeiden Baker, 19, cast his vote for the first time Tuesday.
“It was exhilarating and nerve-wracking,” he said.
He also found “respecting women’s reproductive rights” to be his most passionate issue.
Although Brackett, who considers himself a swing voter, said he doesn’t agree with some people on the topic of abortion but respects their opinions, something he considers a cornerstone of American democracy.
The economy and inflation also were major issues on the minds of Wyoming voters at the polls Tuesday. These issues have been calling cards of the Republican Party in this election cycle on state and national levels.
“I think we need to be controlling of the government finances,” said Fernando Aranda after voting with his 4-year-old daughter in tow. “If we’re not wise with our money now, this city could face a much larger recession.”
Thomas Twitchell said his wife lost 30% of her government-insured retirement savings because of the recent inflation. He places the blame squarely on President Joe Biden and his fellow Democrats.
“We need to turn out all of the Democratic leadership in Washington (D.C),” said Twitchell, who considers himself a proponent of Smithian economics. “We can’t have them continue to export welfare by pumping money into the economy.”
He also mentioned the supply chain issues still plaguing the economy, and said that “the government hasn’t done diddly-squat to revive that.”
On the topic of election security, there was more concern expressed about the election process than confidence. Brackett and Twitchell said there are unanswered questions remaining about alleged irregularities with the 2020 presidential election, while Kathie Freehling said the security of America’s elections is “not very good.”
“All the things after (former President Donald) Trump’s votes that were not counted,” she said. “People on the right, I suppose, don’t feel it’s secure.”
Bo Richards, who describes himself as a “lefty,” said he has confidence in the security of Wyoming elections.
“I think we do a good job,” he said, adding that Republicans complain when things don’t go their way. “Anything that rails against them is subverting the process.”
According to a database managed by the right-leaning Heritage Foundation, Wyoming has seen three instances of voter fraud in 40 years, and none since 2014.
Willms does not support ballot drop boxes and said he wants early and absentee voting to be much more restricted.
“If you can’t take the time to be voting on Election Day, you probably shouldn’t be voting,” he said. “You should be going to the voting centers on Election Day and casting your vote.”
Aranda said he believes the issues alleged about the 2020 presidential election had already existed for many years, but were “finally brought to life.”
“I think what we’re doing in Wyoming is good, that should be brought to light across the country,” Aranda said, adding that he wants election security tightened to ensure that only taxpaying legal Americans are allowed to vote.
What Does Democracy Mean?
The people Cowboy State Daily spoke with Tuesday had surprisingly similar answers when asked what democracy means.
“It’s not the rule of the majority,” Twitchell said. “We have a republic democracy, which means the people elected are supposed to do what’s best for the country, not to do their own will or what other individuals want. They are supposed to do what is right and good.”
Richards said democracy means that every vote counts.
“They can’t be undercounted, you can’t make exceptions to that,” he said, adding he finds democracy to be “the best form of government there is.”
Freehling believes democracy equates to freedom, a sentiment Lindsey Sears and Aranda also agree with.
The ‘Woke’ Effect
Freehling has concerns about “woke” ideology being taught to her grandchildren in school.
“This woke crap is driving me nuts,” she said.
Beth Cook said fighting censorship in school libraries is the issue she is most passionate about.
“I’m absolutely for no censorship,” she said.
Willms was the only person of the people interviewed who expressed a particular interest in any of the political races more than another, saying he didn’t want Republican U.S. congressional candidate Harriet Hageman to win.
“I think they should throw the book at Trump,” Willms said. “He’s a dictator. Look at what he’s still doing.”
Richards said he’s never had much interest in the Wyoming Legislature races and had more interest this year in the races for governor and U.S. Congress.
Sears said she was an adamant Brent Bien supporter during his Republican primary campaign. She said she still voted for him as a write-in candidate on Tuesday.
“My candidate lost in the primary but I still voted for him today,” she said.