Wyoming’s Secretary of State Urges Senators to Oppose Democrat Election Bills
Last week, Wyoming Secretary of State Edward Buchanan sent a letter to Wyoming Senators John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis to oppose Democrats' effort to pass new voting bills.
Buchanan wrote to the senators asking them to oppose the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.
The first bill, which was introduced in the Senate last September, would require, among other things, states to allow same-day voter registration, offer automatic voter registration at the department of motor vehicles, establish specific redistricting criteria for fair maps, increase protections against intimidating election workers, and make Election Day a federal holiday.
The second bill would restore certain provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, such as the preclearance requirement that states check in with the federal government before changing their election laws, a requirement that was eliminated by the 2013 Supreme Court decision Shelby County v. Holder.
Buchanan said while he agrees with a few provisions in the Freedom to Vote Act, like making Election Day a national holiday, he doesn't think they should be done on a federal level.
"On that piece of it, I think states should consider making Election Day a holiday so that people have unfettered access to the polls because I do believe in-person voting is really the most secure way to vote," Buchanan said. "I think that expanding too much in the arena of absentee voting, and certainly mail-in voting is not the direction that I would like to go. To have some type of holiday for people to vote, I can support that...I think it should be done state by state, states are the grand experiment."
Buchanan said there are some federal laws, like the Voting Rights Act of 1965, that were necessary to do federally, but that many voting laws shouldn't be done nationally because of the conflicts that may arise.
"That's a great example of where the federal government can have some beneficial effects with national laws," Buchanan said. "In the 60s when the civil rights act was passed, you had the Democrats controlling the south, and you had Jim Crow laws, and certainly, those states, absent federal intervention, and the Supreme Court cases that came along at that time, without that, I don't think civil rights would have advanced as quickly as they did...But the issue is, if you go too far, you will necessarily have conflict in the laws between federal and state, and when you mandate how states do elections, then you take away that decentralization, and you're going the opposite direction when you start talking about security of elections."
While Buchanan said he has issues with mail-in voting, he does believe it would be difficult to expand the infrastructure necessary to do that more because more people in Wyoming vote in person and because it would be too costly.
"COVID was our biggest absentee voting election, but by and large, and I don't remember the statistic, people in Wyoming like to come to the polls to vote," Buchanan said. "So we don't have the numbers, even absentee, to support mail-in voting and the investment in the infrastructure it would take to do it because there are a lot of other security concerns that you have to address."
And while the Freedom to Vote Act would provide 'financial support for election infrastructure,' in the form of grants to states, Buchanan said the number of strings attached would make the funding unusable.
"They're not going to give money to do that unless we, number one did it, but number two that we did it the way they wanted us to do it, we did it perpetuity, and we did a bunch of other things that they want us to do because the federal money never comes free," Buchanan said. "It comes with strings attached, they make you do things, and then that defeats the whole purpose of federalism and allowing states to do what they do best."