The County Clerks Association of Wyoming is currently conducting a survey to help them shape how the next decade of voting looks in the Cowboy State.
"We must look to the future to keep our voting equipment updated to handle elections in Wyoming," they said in a Powerpoint presentation (slides below). "It's time to look for updated equipment and with the trends in America, also for the possibilities of what the next 10 years might bring to voting in Wyoming."
The 2002 "Help America Vote" Act (HAVA) provided over $8 million from Federal and State funding to try and replace punch card and lever voting machines, moving every state to a computerized voter registration system, and providing for ADA-compliant machines at every polling place. In 2005, then-Secretary of State Joe Meyer proposed House Bill 80, which would have set up a trust fund for replacing voting equipment. The bill failed the legislative session, and since that time, no efforts have been made to work on the replacement of voting systems in Wyoming that would need to be updated in the following decade. In response, "Plan for Aging Voting Equipment," or "PAVE," has been formed.
According to the County Clerks Association, counties across Wyoming are experiencing a lack of election judges, are losing polling places in rural facilities with limited accessibility, and have no money allocated to buy new voting equipment. The state of our current polling system is nearing the end of its usefulness, as outdated equipment will not be serviceable for repairs in the near future. Failure to comply with Federal standards could mean the Department of Justice would intervene in our election process.
Absentee voting has increased 35% across the state since 2012, in our "no-excuse" absentee voting state. Casting an absentee ballot, whether in person or by mail, also allows for "early voting," which helps every registered voter better work casting their vote in to their schedules. However, a true "vote-by-mail" process is only currently allowed under certain circumstances, and the state legislature would have to pass a law allowing this method to be widespread across the state. The County Clerks estimate a vote-by-mail system could decrease election costs to counties by 46%.
They are asking for your input in a Google survey to help guide the future of elections in Wyoming. The entire survey is less than 10 questions long. (Make sure you've read up on the different types of voting procedures in the slides above!)
Brenda Kirk is a writer with over two decades of journalism experience.