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Senate Passes Voter ID Bill

Wyoming Legislature

A bill that would create a voter ID law has passed the Senate after serious discussion about its meaning.

The bill would require voters to show a form of accepted ID in order to vote in person. The list includes forms of ID that can be used to register to vote in Wyoming: a driver's license, state or tribal ID, passport, military ID, or a Wyoming public school, university or community college ID. The bill, though, also includes a Medicare card as an accepted form, an option that's been pushed by Wyoming AARP to maintain voting access for older Wyomingites.

The Senate amended the bill to include Medicaid cards as well, though that still needs approval from the House before sending the bill to the governor's desk.

Despite the very few cases of voter fraud in the past two decades in Wyoming, supporters of the bill say it's a way to make voters feel confident in the voting system, and prevent future fraud.

"We never know what fraud is coming. But I think we'd be silly to say fraud won't come because it always does. If it didn't, we wouldn't be in here making laws," said Gillette Sen. Troy McKeown.

But Laramie Sen. Chris Rothfuss and other critics say this bill is trying to solve a problem that doesn't exist and could create barriers to voting access.

"We're going to reduce voter participation in a way that will, again, disproportionately affect certain demographics," Rothfuss said. "I don't think that's good for democracy. I don't think that's good for our system. I don't think that's the state of Wyoming."

Gillette Sen. Jeff Wasserburger said he supports the bill, but hopes the state will be able to educate residents on the potential new law before the next elections.

The bill also includes a fee waiver for getting a state ID only to vote.

Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Catherine Wheeler, at cwheel11@uwyo.edu .

Catherine Wheeler comes to Wyoming from Kansas City, Missouri. She has worked at public media stations in Missouri and on the Vox podcast "Today, Explained." Catherine graduated from Fort Lewis College with a BA in English. She recently received her master in journalism from the University of Missouri. Catherine enjoys cooking, looming, reading and the outdoors.
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