Wyoming Proposal Would Remove Election Oversight From SOS
The Wyoming Legislature's Corporations, Elections, and Political Subdivisions Committee voted Thursday to draft a bill that would remove oversight of Wyoming elections from the Secretary of State's office and create a new office to oversee voting in the state.
The committee on Thursday approved a motion to draft the bill on a voice vote.
The measure is apparently being driven by concerns over Republican Secretary of State nominee Chuck Gray potentially being in charge of Wyoming elections.
Committee Co-Chair Rep. Dan Zwonitzer while not mentioning Gray by name, did express concerns about him overseeing Wyoming elections.
''We have a 2024 presidential election coming up that is going to be very contentious" Zwonitzer said. ''I do have some concerns that our next person who will likely be our next chief elections officer, Secretary of State, has alleged that there may be nefarious activities at the ballot box in Wyoming, which I don't agree exists. I think our elections are safe and secure, probably more than any other state in this country.''
Zwonitzer went on to say that "based on some of the rhetoric and mailers I saw in regards to our most likely incoming secretary of state, we may be in a precarious position when it comes to election administration over the next four years."
The Secretary of State's office currently is responsible for administering elections in Wyoming.
Gray, who was endorsed by former president Donald Trump, has agreed with Trump's repeated claims that the 2020 election was "rigged." Gray made election integrity and oversight a cornerstone of his campaign. His main rival for the nomination, Sen. Tara Nethercott [R-Cheyenne] is a member of the committee.
Gray defeated Nethercott by about 8 percentage points in the primary election on Aug. 16th.
Zwonitzer, in a Friday morning email to Townsquare Media of Cheyenne, offered the following comments on the proposed draft bill:
''The committee is considering bolstering our election oversight and putting it independent of any one candidate or elected official. There is a bill draft to let the state canvassing board (our 5 statewide elected officials) oversee an independent, non-partisan, office of elections.
At this point, it is only a draft and a discussion in October of how other states handle their election administration. About half have some type of independent authority. We’ll look at those and discuss if Wyoming wants to follow a similar path.''