Gordon Rejects Chuck Gray’s Voter Residency Rules

Gov. Mark Gordon on Friday rejected a slate of tighter voter registration rules proposed by Secretary of State Chuck Gray, saying Wyoming’s elections are “safe and secure.”

Leo Wolfson

April 13, 20245 min read

Secretary of State Chuck Gray, left, and Gov. Mark Gordon
Secretary of State Chuck Gray, left, and Gov. Mark Gordon (Matt Idler for Cowboy State Daily)

For the second time in as many months, Gov. Mark Gordon has rejected a slate of rules proposed by Secretary of State Chuck Gray.

On Friday, Gordon rejected Gray’s proposed rules to tighten voter registration requirements at the polls.

Gordon said the rules exceeded Gray’s statutory authority and that the Legislature has given to the state’s 23 county clerks the responsibility to run elections while preventing fraud and delivering accurate results.

“The state’s election code functions well, and the countless hours spent by volunteers, election judges, canvassing boards, county clerks, town clerks, your office and numerous others have ensured for decades that Wyomingites can trust the state’s election results,” Gordon wrote in his Friday letter to Gray informing him of the rejection. “While there may always be room to improve Wyoming’s election laws, this responsibility lies in the purview of the legislative branch.”

Gray offered a blistering response to Gordon’s decision to Cowboy State Daily, saying Gordon’s decision will empower President Joe Biden by allowing illegal immigrants to vote, which he finds “deeply disturbing.”

“Governor Gordon is now enabling Biden and the most radical leftists in America who are trying to help illegal immigrants vote in our elections,” he said.

The new rules would have required people registering to vote in Wyoming to prove residency if their form of identification didn’t already show it.


Gordon wrote in his letter that there has been very little election fraud reported in Wyoming over the last few decades.

“I want to emphasize that Wyoming’s elections are safe and secure, as evidenced most recently by the widely accepted success of the 2022 election cycle,” Gordon wrote. “Moreover, remedies for suspected malfeasance or fraud, whether inadvertent or deliberate, already exist within the scope of existing statute or rule.”

During his 2022 campaign, Gray hosted free showings of “2000 Mules,” a movie that made controversial claims of election fraud in other states during the 2020 presidential election.

Gray said he found Gordon’s argument that no election fraud exists in Wyoming especially troubling. He said his office worked with county clerks on the issue last year, canceling the registration of an illegal immigrant in Campbell County who illegally voted in the 2020 election.

“These rules were a commonsense solution to stopping voter fraud in Wyoming, including the illegal alien who illegally voted in the 2020 election,” Gray said. “I will continue to fight for election integrity measures to protect our elections.”

Current law does not require voters to prove their residency beyond a sworn affidavit, which Gray sees as a loophole in the law.

But Gordon mentioned how mechanisms already exist within Wyoming state law for election officials to investigate or challenge a voter’s qualifications, and that a voter must be a U.S. citizen to vote in Wyoming, which he and Gray agree is a fundamental requirement.

Can He Do That?

Gordon also noted how the law does not give the secretary of state power to add statutory framework to investigate American citizenship and Wyoming residency.

“The assertion that there is no mechanism for ensuring voters do not misrepresent their residency or citizenship is inaccurate,” Gordon wrote.

Gray disagrees and cited Wyoming law, which defines the registration process as requiring “verification of the name and voter information of a qualified elector” to prove that someone actually is a Wyoming resident and U.S. citizen.

Before Gray took office, a governor vetoing proposed rules from the head of one of his agencies was rare. In February, Gordon also rejected a significant portion of rules Gray proposed for environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing.

Gray presented his proposed rules during a public hearing in January where most of the attendees offered support for them.

“These rules undertook a thorough vetting process and received overwhelming support from the people of Wyoming during the public comment period,” Gray said in a press release. “They should have been signed. I will continue to fight for election integrity measures to protect and improve our elections.”

To The Legislature

In March, the Legislature’s Management Council voted 7-2 to recommend Gordon reject Gray’s proposed rules because they take an action that can only be made by the Legislature. Gordon said in his letter that he agrees with that conclusion.

“Until the Legislature provides more explicit rulemaking authority for the secretary of state, county clerks must follow the methods for investigating and challenging voters’ citizenship and registration outlined in statute,” Gordon wrote. “While I support addressing the county clerks’ concerns, assuming the worst when experience shows that our system continues to be effective at preventing voter fraud, does not support upending a decades long practice. We can always improve, and that discussion properly lies with the Legislature.”

Gray had previously mentioned an August 2023 memo, where the state’s county clerks acknowledged that the current registration process lacks a verification process for proving residency, which Gray said may contradict current law. In this same memo, the clerks had recommended that the Legislature, not Gray, address the issue.

Gordon said he hopes the Legislature takes it up and handles the matter with detailed and careful study.

“Legislative consideration would also provide sufficient time to study the topic and ensure no eligible voters are inadvertently disenfranchised by any future changes, especially this close to a national election,” Gordon wrote.

Gordon also said he met with Gray about the residency rules Wednesday. Gray had also submitted a letter to Gordon on Tuesday about the issue and wrote an op-ed about it in Cowboy State Daily on Thursday.

Leo Wolfson can be reached at leo@cowboystatedaily.com.

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Leo Wolfson

Politics and Government Reporter