In this time of heightened concerns about our country’s election security, Wyoming stands out as an example of how dedicated community members can safeguard the cornerstone of our democracy.
Wyoming’s elections are not just secure; they are some of the most secure in the world. The credit for this goes to Wyoming’s dedicated county clerks.
As Chairman of the House Corporations, Elections & Political Subdivisions Committee, I am working alongside common-sense legislators and Wyoming’s county clerks to develop and implement Wyoming solutions to meet the challenges of today and provide greater strength to Wyoming’s election process.
As we approach the 2024 elections, it is imperative that policy we develop in the Legislature supports the county clerks working in our communities.
They are on the front lines, defending the integrity of our elections day in and day out. To strengthen our electoral process further, we need to turn our attention to recent legislative initiatives, such as the bill we moved for consideration during our last Joint Corporations Committee in late October.
This recent bill is aimed at closing campaign finance loopholes and enhancing transparency in campaign spending. It exemplifies a commitment to higher standards of electoral integrity by redefining the term “organization” to mean a group of two or more people who have collected funding for election activities.
The bill will require disclosure of the names of those involved in providing money toward something like an election communication or radio advertisement in order to prevent an instance where it appears just one individual contributed monetarily.
The bill allows groups to report campaign expenditures without registering as a political action committee. This helps to address undue influence in our political system and better ensures that our elected representatives are serving the will of the people.
Election integrity is an ongoing battle, and it is one that deserves our unwavering dedication. Now more than ever, outside forces and national organizations are attempting to influence Wyoming people and their public officials.
We must ensure the process is transparent and organizations or people who are contributing to an effort are revealed so that voters can make more informed choices.
In addition to safeguarding the integrity of our elections, the Joint Corporations Committee hasbeen at work fixing loopholes of a different kind.
One of our proposals works to ensure voters have been residents for at least 30 days before they can cast a ballot electing Wyoming public officials. It also requires an oath pledging they meet this durational residency requirement, which if violated, is prosecutable.
Another area the Corporations Committee is addressing is the issue of voter intimidation. Currently, election intimidation is only punishable if physical violence occurs.
Our bill adds a misdemeanor on the books for those borderline cases that may not merit a felony charge but involve other sorts of threats, including election intimidation or economic retaliation with the intention to induce fear in an election official or a voter.
As we look forward to 2024, we must face the changing times and the new challenges before us and make the necessary revisions to Wyoming’s election code.
We are thankful to our Wyoming county clerks for their assistance and guidance as we developed this important legislation to continue to prioritize the security and integrity of our electoral system in our state.
In pursuing this legislation, together, we are committed to ensuring that our elections remain a true reflection of the people’s will and that Wyoming’s democracy remains strong.
Representative Jared Olsen (HD-11) is the Chairman of the House Corporations Committee and has served in the Wyoming House of Representatives since 2017.