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Wyoming Senate

Wyoming Senate Introduces Bill That Stops Party Changes, Trump Endorses

in News/politics
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Wyoming Senate on Thursday introduced legislation aimed at keeping voters from changing voter affiliation to affect the outcome of a primary election.

Senate File 97 was introduced Thursday and referred to the the Senate Corporations Committee. The majority of the Senate, 20 senators, voted to introduce the bill.

Current Wyoming law allows voters to change their party affiliations as late as the day of a primary or general election.

If SF97 is signed into law, it would specify that people wishing to change party affiliation would have to do so about three months prior to a primary election or between the primary and general elections.

“It’s another election integrity bill aimed at restoring integrity to the primary election process,” sponsor Sen. Bo Biteman, R-Ranchester, said during his testimony in support of the bill. “I think it’s important that people feel confident that their vote is not going to get canceled out.”

Former President Donald Trump endorsed the bill on Thursday, praising Biteman as a patriot for co-sponsoring it.

“The Wyoming State Senate is considering SF0097, introduced by Patriot Senator Bo Biteman, to protect the integrity of Wyoming primary elections,” Trump said.

“This critically important bill ensures that the voters in each party will separately choose their nominees for the General Election, which is how it should be! It makes total sense that only Democrats vote in the Democrat primary and only Republicans vote in the Republican primary,” he said. “This bill has my Complete and Total Endorsement and Support. Every Member of the Wyoming Senate should vote for SF0097. Thank you!”

While Biteman did not return Cowboy State Daily’s request for more information about the bill on Wednesday, he did say in a statement that the practice of “crossover voting” had been going on for too long in Wyoming.

“It is not fair, it is not right, and it is harming the integrity of our party nomination process,” Biteman said Wednesday.

“This bill will go a long way toward ending this up to now legal, but unethical behavior, and restore confidence in our party nominating process. Party switching cancels out the vote of actual party members by those who wish to game the system and influence the outcome of their competing party’s nominating election.” 

The bill would immediately go into effect after being signed into law, which could mean that the numbers for the August primary election are affected.

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Bill Would List Political Affiliation For School Board Candidates

in News/Legislature/Education/politics
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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A bill that would allow school board candidates to list their political affiliation on ballots won approval from a Senate committee Friday, despite objection from the Wyoming School Boards Association.

Sen. Affie Ellis, R-Cheyenne, the sponsor of Senate File 138, told members of the Senate Education Committee that the party affiliation listings will help voters decide who to cast their ballots for in school board races.

“Every year during election season, I do my due diligence and try to make sure I understand who the candidates are,” said Ellis, a member of the committee. “Inevitably, before I was elected and spent so much time working on education issues, I really had no idea who was on the school board.”

Ellis noted by allowing school board candidates to add their political party affiliation, voters would also be alerted to some of their ideals.

“I think it would indicate to voters what your mindset is and I know there are people who are proud of their party affiliation, Republican or Democrat,” Ellis said.

However, she added the party affiliation listing would be optional for school board candidates.

However, Wyoming School Board Association Executive Director Brian Farmer said since the board positions are non-partisan, his association believes party affiliations should not be included on ballots.

“We believe school boards are nonpartisan and that they should operate with the best interest of children in mind without regard to political party,” Farmer said.

Additionally, non-partisan elections run on a different cycle than partisan ones, the latter of which are paid for by the state. School board elections are paid for by school districts.

Lobbyist Marguerite Herman added school board candidates generally make no secret of their party affiliation in their campaign materials and said she feels the affiliation shouldn’t be added to the ballot for these candidates since they do not hold the same type of power as a city councilperson or county commissioner.

“I’ve always had a bit of a Pollyanna attitude, but it’s that you should leave your political party affiliation at the door when you walk into a school boardroom,” Herman said. “You have to think of the district as a whole.”

The committee passed the bill on a vote of 4-1, sending it to the Senate floor for consideration.

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