A concealed carry permit would be another form of legal identification to vote in Wyoming under a bill that unanimously passed the Wyoming Legislature’s Senate Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee on Thursday.
State Sen. Lynn Hutchings, R-Cheyenne, is the lead sponsor on Senate File 86, which would add concealed carry permits to the long list of acceptable forms of identification needed to vote in Wyoming.
It would not, however, be added to the list of forms of ID allowed to register to vote.
Hutchings told Cowboy State Daily a story of when she arrived at a polling place to vote and realized she had no form of identification on her besides her concealed carry permit.
“I said, ‘I’m a state legislator. I’m going to fix that,’” Hutchings said.
Show Some Identification, Please
A driver’s license or ID from Wyoming or another state, a tribal ID, a U.S. passport, U.S. military card, a University of Wyoming or Wyoming community college student ID, a Wyoming public school student ID, or valid Medicare or Medicaid insurance card are all accepted forms of identification to vote in Wyoming.
“My concealed carry (ID) has more information on it than my driver’s ID,” Hutchings said. “It has all my personal information on it, but they wouldn’t let me vote with it.”
To receive a concealed carry permit in Wyoming, an applicant must be at least 21 years old, a resident of the state for at least six months and demonstrate familiarity with handling a firearm, among other requirements.
Don’t Bring Your Gun To School
Many polling places are located in schools in Wyoming, which are usually considered gun-free zones. This still applies when people go to vote, so they are not allowed to bring their firearms in with them even if SF 86 passes.
Hutchings said she doesn’t favor of having more laws but wants to do what she can to make life easier for her constituents.
Even though he has favored tightening voter identification laws in the past, Secretary of State Chuck Gray said he supports the legislation.
About six months after passing his bill that requires voters to show photo identification at the polls, Gray said he received a call from a constituent about the concealed carry issue.
“Definitely agreed this is a good addition,” he said.
Gray suggested an amendment to the bill clarifying that only a concealed carry permit issued by Wyoming be allowed as ID to vote. Wyoming has reciprocity with 35 other states for concealed firearms permits.
“I do believe it should be a Wyoming concealed carry permit for purposes of identification,” he said.
The amendment passed.
Rep. Barry Crago, R-Buffalo, has drafted a House version of the legislation, House Bill 79.
Despite the bills being nearly identical in practice, the sponsors of each said they drafted their legislation independently.
“It came from a constituent request,” Crago said of his bill. “The best ideas come from citizens.”
Crago and Hutchings said they previously weren’t aware concealed carry permits aren’t acceptable identification to vote.
The Wyoming County Clerks Association also supports the legislation.
“The identification process of a concealed carry permit is rigorous,” said Mary Lankford, a representative of the organization.
‘One Of The Most Secure Forms Of ID’
To receive a concealed carry permit in Wyoming, a person must fill out an application, pay a $64 fee and wait around 90 days. It also includes a background check, a measure not required for most other forms of ID accepted for voting in Wyoming.
“It’s one of the most secure forms of ID,” Crago said, adding he believes it will increase election integrity.
Sen. Cale Case, R-Lander, reminded the audience that showing ID at polling places is to confirm the identification of a voter. When people register to vote, there is a more rigorous identification process.