| Victoria Eavis | Casper Star-Tribune Online |
A week after one of the most discussed elections in Wyoming’s history, a panel of lawmakers will consider changes to the state’s voting system.
The Legislature’s Joint Corporations Committee will discuss a ranked-choice voting system and whether to implement special elections if one of the state’s top elected officials departs.
They’ll come down with steel-toed boots.
The meeting, which is open to the public and will be streamed online, will take place in Casper on Thursday and Friday.
As has become the norm over the last couple years, the corporations committee will consider election reform legislation. That includes implementing a ranked-choice voting system similar to the one used last week in Alaska’s primary.
As the bill is currently written, it would permit voters to rank any candidate “without regard to political party affiliation.” In other words, a voter could rank a Republican first and a Democrat second and not be bound by party.
But the current bill draft will likely be workshopped extensively, said Sen. Cale Case, R-Lander, and Rep. Dan Zwonitzer, R-Cheyenne.
For example, it’s possible that a ranked-choice system could exist within partisan primaries, so voters would only be able to rank Democrats or Republicans depending on their registration.
The committee will also be reviewing a bill that would trigger a special election if there’s a vacancy in some of the state’s elected offices. As it stands, the state Republican or Democratic central committee (depending on the politician being replaced) is responsible for nominating three candidates. The governor then picks one of those three.
Case suspects the state GOP will lobby against this bill.
“They’ll come down with steel-toed boots,” he said.
In recent years, the state party and a large portion of its central committee has become increasingly hard-line and MAGA-minded, putting the group at odds with more traditional, big tent Republicans. The central committee passed over Megan Degenfelder when choosing nominees for schools superintendent earlier this year, although she had administrative experience in the Wyoming Department of Education. Instead, the group nominated three far-right candidates, including the eventually appointee, Brian Schroeder. Voters, however, picked Degenfelder in last week’s primary.
Sen. John Barrasso, who has since been reelected, also first assumed office through the nomination process.