If You Want To Switch Parties For Wyoming Primary, The Deadline Is Wednesday

This will be the first primary in Wyoming without true crossover voting, which means Wednesday is the deadline to change party affiliation for the August election.

Leo Wolfson

May 15, 20245 min read

A large sign outside Laramie High School tells people where to vote on Election Day in 2022.
A large sign outside Laramie High School tells people where to vote on Election Day in 2022. (Greg Johnson, Cowboy State Daily)

When the clock strikes 5 p.m. Wednesday, all party affiliations will be locked for the upcoming primary election in Wyoming.

It’s an important deadline in a state where most elections are decided in the August primary because of the overwhelming Republican majority in Wyoming. To participate in most elections in the Aug. 20 primary, a voter must be affiliated as either a Republican or Democrat.

Due to changes made during the 2023 legislative session, the deadline to change one’s party affiliation was moved from Election Day to the day before the opening of the candidate period on Thursday. This was done to eliminate the practice known as “crossover voting,” when someone changes party affiliation to influence the election of another party’s primary.

Getting The Word Out

County clerks around the state and various voter advocacy groups have been doing their best to alert voters to the change this spring.

In Cheyenne, the Laramie County Elections Office held a pop-up event at a local library to help people register and/or change their party affiliation in preparation for the upcoming election.

Laramie County Clerk Debra Lee believes many people are still confused about the deadline change and what it means.

“I think there’s a lot of confusion about it,” she said. “I hope it doesn’t discourage people from voting.”

Despite making vows to do otherwise, the Wyoming Secretary of State’s Office put out very little information about the new deadline change. In fact, it put out no information on its website that a change in the law had happened.

Voter advocacy group Equality State Policy Center ran its own campaign to get the word out about the registration change, as did most county clerks around the state.

Lee and Marissa Carpio, policy director for the Equality State Policy Center, said they found the Secretary of State’s Office's lack of involvement discouraging.

“It was disappointing there wasn’t a statewide push,” Carpio said. “The resources we have are not like that of the state government.”

How Many Don’t Know?

Carpio expressed concern that casual voters may not know about the change, but Lee said she’s seen a steady stream of about 100 voters a month coming into her office over the last three months to either change party affiliation or register to vote, in addition to receiving many phone calls about the topic.

Wyoming has no online database for voter registration status, so people must call their county clerks to see if they are registered to vote, and if so, with which party.

Hans Odde, deputy county clerk in Park County, said in the past week his office has had just as many Republicans coming in to change affiliation to Democrat as Democrats, unaffiliated and Independent voters changing to Republican.

He believes that nearly every voter who’s changed party affiliation before elections in the past is well aware of the new law.

“The people it affects and have done the party change thing in the past are very well knowledgeable about what’s going on,” Odde said. “People are using it to the same extent as the past.”

Odde said he’s also received a fair share of communication from people who don’t understand what the change means.

The other tricky part of the change is that it will land on a different date every election year, always one day before the candidate filing period opens.

Malcolm Ervin, Platte County clerk and president of the Wyoming County Clerks Association, is concerned about third-party and unaffiliated voters who may be less engaged in the latest political news.

“Those are the ones I’m most concerned about,” he said.

He said it’s inevitable that at least a few voters won’t know until they arrive at the polls to vote in August.

None of the changes will have any impact on unregistered voters, who still have up to Election Day to register.

Park County has put out various advertisements about the change, as did Platte County, along with radio ads. Neither Odde nor Ervin said they’ve got any flack from people accusing their offices of putting out too much information about it.


Thousands of people around Wyoming were purged from the voter rolls after not voting in the 2022 general election, which was relatively quiet compared to the highly contentious primary election that year.

As of the beginning of May, there were 83,500 fewer registered voters in the state than at the end of 2022, a roughly 28% drop, according to data from the Wyoming Secretary of State’s Office.

Lee said more than 15,000 voters were purged in Laramie County, with notices sent out to about 18,000 voters about it. From this total, she said only around 3,000 actually re-registered.

The term “purge” isn’t as dire or dramatic as it sounds. All being purged from the voter rolls in Wyoming means is a voter has to re-register to vote again. Further, voters who have been purged from the rolls are immune to the new party affiliation change as they are considered unregistered.

“It would be to their advantage as they can see who’s on the ballot and make a determination what party they want to register for based on the ballots,” Lee said.

Other Deadlines

On Thursday, the official candidate filing period opens for the 2024 election season. This will run through May 31.

After that, the absentee voting period will begin for members of the military and overseas residents on July 5.

The early voting and absentee voting period for the rest of Wyoming residents will begin July 23. This was the result of another change made during the 2023 session, reducing the early voting period for most Wyoming residents from 45 to 28 days.

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

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Leo Wolfson

Politics and Government Reporter