Voter ID measure clears House

CASPER — Wyoming voters may need to show a photo ID before casting their ballots in future elections.

House Bill 75 passed Wyoming’s House of Representatives on Wednesday, 51-9, despite an attempt by Rep. Andi Clifford, D-Riverton, to challenge the bill during its third reading.

The legislation would require Wyomingites to bring certain types of photo identification to the polls.

“I think when you look at how our election structure works, we need to do everything in our power to encourage (voting), especially with our young people, our new people, our people of color and those less fortunate. This bill doesn’t encourage that,” Clifford said during testimony against the bill.

The legislation now heads to the Senate floor for consideration.

The bill would require voters to bring one of the following forms of identification to vote in person: 

  • driver’s license or identification card issued by any state or outlying possession of the U.S.; 
  • tribal identification card; 
  • valid U.S. passport; 
  • U.S. military card; 
  • Medicare insurance card; 
  • or  photo identification issued by the University of Wyoming, a Wyoming community college or a Wyoming public school. 

Several of the bill’s sponsors admitted voter fraud does not happen often in Wyoming. In fact, it remains exceedingly rare. 

But supporters said the additional rules were a “proactive” measure and would restore voter confidence in the election process. 

“It’s important that we continue to strengthen our election processes to ensure public confidence,” said Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper, the bill’s sponsor. “This is a best practices issue.” 

“Every effort has been made to work through this issue so that we don’t disenfranchise anyone,” Gray added in response to Clifford’s amendment.

Along the way, representatives presented several amendments to the controversial bill. 

One such change, proposed by Rep. Dan Zwonitzer, R-Cheyenne, makes out-of-state identification cards and Wyoming student IDs acceptable forms of identification. 

Supporters of these additions feared students studying at the University of Wyoming, or other new residents, would be prevented from voting.

Another amendment, introduced by Albert Sommers, R-Pinedale, would waive fees associated with obtaining an identification card, if the applicant only uses it for voting.

The bill would not apply to voters who vote by absentee ballot after registering by mail or in person. 

The fight to impose more identification requirements at the polls has become a popular rallying call in Republican-led legislatures across the country, including Wyoming’s. Several lawmakers have attempted to impose stricter voter ID rules in response to former President Donald Trump’s claims that the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent.

The added voting rules included in House Bill 75 will only disenfranchise voters, especially marginalized voters, and make voting less accessible, critics of the bill have said.

Clifford cited the record-breaking voter turnout in the 2020 general election. The elections were secure, she said.

“Wyoming was not inundated with fraud that it seems to many of my colleagues,” Clifford said. “We want more people to participate, not less. By passing this bill, it automatically equates to voter suppression and imposes a restriction on voting access.” 

Clifford ultimately withdrew the amendment.