Legislature discusses voter fraud bill

The Wyoming Legislature is considering a bill that would require voters to present a photo ID at polling places. While Johnson County Clerk Vicki Edelman said she doesn’t oppose the bill, it’s likely to have little impact in Johnson County.

The Wyoming House of Representatives is debating a bill that would require voters to present a photo ID before heading to their polling places.

While House Bill 192, sponsored by Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper, seeks to prevent voter fraud in Wyoming, Johnson County Clerk Vicki Edelman said it likely wouldn’t have much impact in Johnson County.

“There just simply isn’t a lot of voter fraud happening – at least in this county,” Edelman said. “In my (eight) years as the clerk, I’ve only seen one instance of voter fraud, and that was when a felon voted in an election. But presenting an ID wouldn’t have necessarily solved that problem. Either way, we wouldn’t have realized that he was a felon until after he voted.”

There are multiple ways to commit voter fraud, including impersonating other legitimate voters, voting under fraudulent voter registrations that use phony names, voting multiple times and voting in a jurisdiction where the registered voter does not actually live. Another type of voter fraud is ineligible voting by those who are non-U.S. citizens or convicted felons.

While requiring a photo ID may help in some cases, it is less helpful in cases of ineligible voting, Edelman said.

“The only thing that I think could have helped in that situation is an electronic poll book connected to the WyoReg system (the state’s database of registered voters),” Edelman said. “That would have given us a head-up right when he voted that something was wrong. As it was, we didn’t realize it had occurred until we were counting ballots.”

Edelman said she was fine with the new requirement proposed in House Bill 192, even if it likely wouldn’t have much of an impact on Johnson County.

“I am certainly not opposed to having voters provide identification, as long as it follows federal guidelines,” Edelman said. “But I’m also not sure it’s going to have as much impact as they want it to have – especially in Johnson County. Johnson County is small enough that we know most everybody who is going to the polls, and we don’t have a lot of the voter fraud problems that larger counties experience.”

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