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Crook County may have to reduce polling locations due to continued concerns over election integrity

J. Stephen Conn
Flickr via CC BY-NC 2.0

Skepticism about election integrity and voter fraud persists inWyoming, even though local and state officials say elections are safe and secure. These beliefs could leadCrook County to reduce the number of polling locations.

“If people continue to be concerned about election integrity, then we would have to shut down some polling places so that we could monitor them closer,” explained Crook County Clerk Linda Fritz.

There are several factors that must be taken into consideration to provide enhanced security measures, which would be costly to the county.

“If the community is concerned about the security of the machines, we would have to go to buildings that are monitored daily with cameras or that have staff there to know that they’ve not been, [that] they’re locked in one room that no one else has access to until election day, like the city halls,” she said. “Crook County wouldn’t have that ability in some of the rural areas because there isn’t either internet access so that we could be monitoring them or the expense alone. To put up that kind of security would almost require us to shut down some of those rural polling places.”

That extra cost, Fritz said, could reduce the 13 polling locations countywide to five or six locations. To provide a greater level of security, some counties have invested in game cameras to monitor polling sites to alleviate concerns about alleged wrongdoing, she said. But there’s no evidence of any widespread voter fraud in Crook County or Wyoming. For the level of fraud to take place that some allege has occurred, there would have to be widespread involvement and complicity with the system, she explained.

“They’re also calling into question the integrity of probably 80 people that serve as election judges, not just the county clerks but the election judges who are their neighbors,” she said. “So, there would have to be mass collusion for there to be fraud in Wyoming elections. I don’t believe that that happens.”

She said in over two decades of service in the Clerk's office, there are only a select few instances of voting improprieties occurring, which were documented.

“The only things we’ve ever had is maybe a felon who took a false oath on their voter registration form and voted, and we had one permanent non-resident do the same thing after I told him four times that he could not vote, he went to the polling place on election day and did it anyway, but I turned those over for prosecution,” she said.

Concerns about voter fraud and election integrity have been popular topics over the last few years, largely fueled by former president Donald Trump’s false claims that the2016 and2020 elections were plagued by mass voter fraud. In both, Crook County voters represented the most Republican county in Wyoming. Fritz encourages those who have questions about election security to visit their county clerk to find out more about how elections are kept secure.

Corrected: May 18, 2022 at 9:39 PM MDT
The initial version stated that Fritz had been clerk for 3 decades. She is actually serving her second term as Crook County Clerk, who previously served for 17 years as Deputy Clerk in the same office.
Hugh Cook is Wyoming Public Radio's Northeast Reporter, based in Gillette. A fourth-generation Northeast Wyoming native, Hugh joined Wyoming Public Media in October 2021 after studying and working abroad and in Washington, D.C. for the late Senator Mike Enzi.
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