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Ballot Initiative To Limit Campaign Spending Gets An OK, First Step In Long Process

Photo by Erik (HASH) Hersman via CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

The Wyoming Secretary of State’s office recently certified a proposed ballot initiative to limit the influence of money on politics. But getting an initiative on the Wyoming ballot isn’t easy. 

The proposed initiative, sponsored by Wyoming Promise, would regulate political contributions and spending. But before it can get on the ballot, it requires 15 percent of registered Wyoming voters in two-thirds of the state’s counties to sign a petition. Lander Senator Cale Case said that kind of robust requirement in signatures can make things difficult, but not impossible.

“You can’t just go to Cheyenne and Casper and camp out and get lots and lots of signatures there,” said Case. “You really have to beat the bushes in all the counties.”

There can also be issues with ballot signatures, since people are not always registered voters, or they might write their name differently from when they registered to vote. And signatures are only the first hurdle, since lawmakers would have to vote to put the measure on the ballot. Then voters would have to approve it in November of 2018. Case said he would be in favor of streamlining the ballot initiative process, but only in some respects.

“California has way too many, probably Colorado has way too many initiatives, and it’s confusing to voters. It’s dueling, they’re going in opposite directions,” said Case. “I don’t think we have enough voter participation, so I would definitely support changing that, but that requires a constitutional amendment, which means the legislature has to pass it by two-thirds and submit it to the voters, and the legislature kind of likes it the way it is now.”

Casper Senator Charles Scott prefers the current process, which he said helps the state avoid abuses in ballot initiatives.

Wyoming Promise now has 18 months to gather and submit the proper signatures.

Maggie Mullen is Wyoming Public Radio's regional reporter with the Mountain West News Bureau. Her work has aired on NPR, Marketplace, Science Friday, and Here and Now. She was awarded a 2019 regional Edward R. Murrow Award for her story on the Black 14.
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