Tuesday, November 01, 2016

What do the Wyoming Election Statutes have to say about behavior at the polls?

I just finished eating all of the leftover Halloween candy so had the energy to read the Wyoming Election Code, all 343 pages. Actually I skipped over most of it to get to the meaty parts about behavior on election day, a follow-up on my 10/31 post about possible voter intimidation. I bring some experience to this, a life-long voter who has served as both a poll watcher and election judge in Laramie County. I am reprinting applicable parts of the code here, for your convenience. I was struck by how much time and effort went into crafting 343 pages of election guidelines. As a professional writer and editor, I have composed more business-oriented documents than I care to think about.  I know how much work it takes.

A few years back, I rewrote the bylaws of the Laramie County Democratic Party. I researched the state by-laws and those of other county parties. Republican Party by-laws also have to be rewritten every so often. It's a volunteer or a committee who does the work because they believe in the goals of their party. Volunteers do most of the hard work in politics, especially in a sparsely-populated-and-few-electoral-votes state such as Wyoming, where national political parties tend to be stingy with their money. 

I look at these statutes and think about my Irish grandfather, how he was so proud to vote the first time as an American citizen. I think about all the immigrants voting as citizens in 2016 for the first time. They're from Syria, El Salvador, Egypt, Ukraine, Mongolia, elsewhere. I think about all of the times I voted and worked at the polls, doing my duty as a citizen. And I think about all of the people who don't bother to vote, which is almost beyond comprehension.

Here are the applicable sections of the statute. For your reading enjoyment, you may download these and any other Wyoming statute at http://legisweb.state.wy.us/LSOWEB/StatutesDownload.aspx. For elections, scroll down to Title 22. 
22‑13‑103.  Preservation of order; privacy of voting booths and machines.
(a)  Judges of election have the duty and authority to preserve order at the polls by any necessary and suitable means.
(b)  To protect the privacy of the voter, voting booths and voting machines shall be kept clear of all persons except voters marking ballots, election officials discharging their duties and challengers acting under legal authority.
22‑15‑101.  Right to vote may be challenged.
Registration is evidence of a person's right to vote at any election, but this right may be challenged at the polls in the manner prescribed by law.
22‑15‑102.  Repealed By Laws 1998, ch. 100, § 5.
22‑15‑103.  Repealed By Laws 1998, ch. 100, § 5.
22‑15‑104.  Grounds for challenge.
(a)  A person offering to vote may be challenged for the following reasons:
(i)  Not a qualified elector;
(ii)  Not entitled to vote in the precinct;
(iii)  Name does not appear on poll list and the person cannot meet the requirements to register at the polls;
(iv)  Not the person he represents himself to be;
(v)  Has already voted.
22‑15‑105.  Challenged person may vote; generally.
(a)  If a person offering to vote is challenged, and the challenge is not resolved in accordance with W.S. 22‑15‑106, an election judge shall offer the voter a ballot clearly marked "provisional" and which cannot be automatically tabulated.
(b)  A person challenged on any ground may vote by provisional ballot, if he subscribes this oath in writing before a judge of election:
"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I am the person I represent myself to be and that I am a qualified elector entitled to vote in this precinct at this election and that this is the only ballot I have or will vote in this election.".
Signature of voter
Signature of judge
Precinct and District No.
(c)  The oath required by this section shall be printed on the provisional ballot envelope.
(d)  A challenged voter may present information and documentation of his eligibility to register at the election or to vote to the county clerk until the close of business on the day following the election. Any information presented shall be considered by the canvassing board in determining the voter's eligibility to register at the election or to vote and whether to open and count his provisional ballot. The provisional ballot shall be counted only after the voter has, by presenting documentation required under this code to the county clerk, established he had previously registered and is a qualified elector or he was eligible to register at the election and is a qualified elector.
22‑15‑106.  Where name not on poll list.
A person challenged on the ground that his name does not appear on the poll list may vote if a judge of election obtains verification from the county clerk that the person is entitled to vote in that election within that county.
22‑15‑107.  Repealed by Laws 2002, Ch. 18 § 3.
22‑15‑108.  Duty of judges to challenge.
It is the duty of the judges to challenge electors whenever existence of legal grounds for doing so is known or apparent to the judges.
22‑15‑109.  Poll watchers; certification; qualification; authority; removal.
(a)  The county chairman of each political party may certify poll watchers prior to the day of the election to serve in each polling place.  Not more than one (1) poll watcher from each political party may serve simultaneously unless the chief judge determines that one (1) additional poll watcher from each political party may be accommodated in the polling place without disrupting the polling process.
(b)  A poll watcher shall belong to the political party he represents and shall be a registered elector residing in the county.  A poll watcher shall serve only at the polling place designated on the certificate.  A poll watcher is authorized to observe voter turn out and registration and may make written memoranda but shall not challenge voters, conduct electioneering activities or disrupt the polling process.
(c)  The chief judge may remove a poll watcher from the polling place for disturbing the polling place, or for any other violation of the Election Code.

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