Equality State Policy Center Calls For Absentee Voting And Mail-In Registration

May 22, 2020

Credit Chris Phan via Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

The Equality State Policy Center wants the 2020 elections to be safe and widely accessible.

The nonprofit sent a letter to Secretary of State Ed Buchanan asking him to safeguard the 2020 primary and general elections in Wyoming. That letter calls on the secretary to use emergency powers, afforded by state statute, to allow voter registration by mail.

Chris Merrill, executive director of the Equality State Policy Center, said the state needs to avoid accidentally disenfranchising people who can't, or don't want to, go to the courthouse during a pandemic.

"You want people to be able to register to vote if they want to register to vote; you want people to be able to cast their vote if they want to cast their vote," Merrill said. "And this is in the interest of not only protecting public health but also to protect the health of county officials and employees."

The letter also calls on the secretary to increase the number of available in-person voting locations, and to allow for absentee voting.

Absentee voting might already be an option for Wyoming voters. But Merrill said the secretary of state could send out a mailer to registered voters clarifying the issue.

"Most people have never even considered absentee ballots because they go to polls on election day and they vote, and that's what they've done all their lives," he said. "It's just good to let voters know that this option is available to them."

More voting locations will make voting safer, Merrill said.

"In order to accommodate appropriate social distancing and sanitization protocols - that would be accomplished much easier if there were more locations for people to choose from so people aren't all forced to go to the same place," he said.

Merrill said the secretary of state's office has already been thinking about how to safeguard Wyoming elections, and that the center wanted to contribute to that conversation with its recommendations.

Have question about this story? Contact the reporter, Jeff Victor at jvictor@uwyo.edu.