Rodger McDaniel FILE

Rodger McDaniel

Eager to prove they have less interest in governing than their kin in Congress, Wyoming Republicans set aside the hard work of resolving an existential budgetary crisis to address, among other sideshow issues, the nonexistent problem of voter fraud.

Wyoming is an odd place to address voter fraud. In 2020, Donald Trump received 70% of the votes cast in Wyoming. U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis tallied 73%, as did U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney.

No Wyoming Democrat has been elected to Congress since 1976. You have to go back to 2002 to find a statewide election won by a Democrat. During those two decades, with one exception, Republican candidates amassed no fewer than 67% of the vote, while most took at least seven out of 10 votes cast.

In those elections, Republicans added to their lopsided majority in the Legislature and dominated every election for county officers. All those Republicans were elected in free and fair elections under the existing law with infinitesimal evidence of voter fraud.

Since Nov. 3, Republican registration increased 10%, Democrats by 2%. So, why do Wyoming Republicans want to make it harder for you to vote? What is it about the voters who always elect them, and the elections they nearly always win, they do not trust?

The conservative Heritage Foundation studied voter fraud, identifying three Wyoming cases since 2000. One person registered to vote at an address she had moved away from. Two voters relocated to a different Wyoming county. In 2000, they received a ballot forwarded from the former home and voted it. A third was a convicted felon from Alaska who moved to Wyoming and voted in 2014. https://www.heritage.org/voterfraud/search?state=WY

Three incidents since 2000. In those years, a total of 2,455,517 votes were cast in Wyoming. Thus, Wyoming’s fraud rate in the last 10 elections is .000001222%.

Nevertheless, Wyoming’s Republican Party, with its short leash on GOP legislators, demands lawmakers impose unnecessary restrictions on your right to vote. They want to abolish mail-in voting and drop boxes to collect ballots. Those electronic voting machines taxpayers invested in, the ones that never tabulated an illegal vote? They want them banned.

They want to prohibit absentee voting except for military voters and those with what the GOP deems “valid reasons” to vote absentee. Currently, you decide whether you have a valid reason, but they don’t trust you to make that choice.

With virtually no evidence of fraud, who else don’t they trust? The GOP demands are an insult to all voters, particularly their own, and to local Republican county clerks, and their neighbors who work the polls on Election Day.

Nationwide, Republicans are manufacturing legislation to restrict voting. In most states, they are trying to suppress the votes of people of color. Wyoming doesn’t even have that motive. They have no genuine motive. They just want to make it harder to vote.

Unintended consequences will keep some from voting, mostly the elderly, the disabled, those without transportation, working people and those who enjoy the convenience of voting by mail. These unwarranted impositions will further discourage the 48% of eligible voters who don’t bother to register to vote. They will shrink the pitiful voter turnout in our state, which was only 62.6% in 2020, the highest it’s been since 2008. Who does that help?

They don’t care about what is actually happening in Wyoming. They are listening to Trump’s lies and the liars who regurgitate them. This is the irrational nationalization of local politics. Lawmakers enter the echo chamber and hear false claims about what’s happening elsewhere and bring “solutions” home, even where there is no problem to solve. The real voter fraud is claiming there is voter fraud.

When cult leaders who are bad losers mix with conspiracy theorists, they focus on problems existing only in the recesses of a boggled mind. If it makes it harder for you to vote, tough luck. They don’t trust you to conduct a fair election. That’s your reward for being loyal Republican voters.

Rodger McDaniel lives in Laramie and is the pastor at Highlands Presbyterian Church in Cheyenne. Email: rmc81448@gmail.com.

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