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Follow Wyoming Public Radio as we cover the Equality State and U.S. elections online and on-air.

County Attorney Concludes No Violations Against Native Voters In 2018 Election

Renee Silverman via https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

Fremont County Attorney Patrick LeBrun said, yes, county clerk employees were confused about where tribal members could register and whether they could use their tribal ID, but he said they did not deter them from voting. He made the judgement after he was asked by the Wyoming Democratic Party to investigate voter suppression allegations.

In a second situation, he looked into the validity of a polling judge requiring voters to recite an oath.

"She wanted to make sure that when somebody registered to vote they understood they couldn't be a felon. That was her reason," said LeBrun. "It was not how she was trained, but that's what she did."

LeBrun said the judge was a tribal member who knew many of the voters and they had never complained about being asked to recite an oath before. But he said the judge was not conducting a literacy test, as alleged.

"Now, had that happened, boy oh boy, there'd be a serious problem," he said. "That would be a clear violation of Wyoming law. It would definitely be a civil rights violation. [But] no one was denied the privilege of voting if they couldn't read."

The Wyoming Democratic Party Chairman Joe Barbuto said, "The investigation was just a first step in the process. We know that a problem still exists because people are still complaining that they're facing obstacles."

Barbuto said, going forward, there's a need for more education for poll workers on Wyoming election policies.

"This isn't a political issue," Barbuto said. "The people that registered that day, I don't know if they were all Democrats or Republicans or Libertarians or unaffiliated voters. That's not the point. We want to protect this right to vote."

Melodie Edwards is the host and producer of WPM's award-winning podcast The Modern West. Her Ghost Town(ing) series looks at rural despair and resilience through the lens of her hometown of Walden, Colorado. She has been a radio reporter at WPM since 2013, covering topics from wildlife to Native American issues to agriculture.

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