Cross-voting bill sparks debate over what is expected of Republicans | 307 Politics


A bill to end the practice of cross-voting is headed to the House after a long debate about what it means to be a Republican in Wyoming today.

Senate Docket 97, sponsored by Sen. Bo Biteman, R-Ranchester, would end same-day party affiliation switching in Wyoming. If the measure becomes law, changes in party affiliation would not be allowed in the roughly three months before a primary. Supporters want to prevent Democrats and independents from changing their Election Day registration in order to vote in Republican primaries, a practice known as cross-voting.

This change would mean that voters would not necessarily know who the candidates for their respective primaries are when they register. Instead, they would be beholden to their party when it comes to contesting a primary election.

A cross-voting ban is not a new effort in Wyoming politics, as Biteman has introduced this bill several times before. But this year’s debate has taken on new meaning. Former President Donald Trump backs the measure as a way to increase the likelihood of unseating Rep. Liz Cheney, whose criticism of the president is likely to draw support from moderates and Democrats.

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The Wyoming Republican Party backed him, as did late influential GOP mega-donor Foster Friess. Proponents of the bill say the practice of cross-voting has allowed moderate Republicans to succeed their more conservative counterparts in crowded primaries, even though the state is deeply red-blooded.

Opponents of the bill, including several lawmakers and a lobbyist for the League of Women Voters, pointed out that the bill would require voters to register with a party before knowing who the candidates are in the next race. . A voter could not decide at the polls which primary he would prefer to participate in.

“That’s the point,” Biteman said. “That’s exactly the practice I’m trying to stop. I don’t think that’s fair.

For Sen. Cale Case, R-Lander, that reality ran counter to his view of what it means to be a Republican.

“[The Republican Party] used to stand for things like freedom, like limited government, like personal responsibility,” he said. “Now the way this bill is crafted…people will have to decide where they will be in the enclosure, in the size-restricted tent no later than the first day of the nomination period.”

But in Wyoming, Republican leaders have begun to question the idea of ​​the “big tent” party, which has long been associated with the GOP.

“In Wyoming, we don’t necessarily embrace the idea of ​​a big tent,” Wyoming GOP Chairman Frank Eathorne said in an interview with Fox News.

Supporters have repeatedly clarified that the bill would not prevent anyone from voting: Voters would simply be locked into a certain party on primary day.

Last week, Trump released a statement in support of the measure.

“This critically important bill ensures that each party’s voters will separately choose their candidates in the general election, which they should!” he wrote.

Follow state political reporter Victoria Eavis on Twitter @Victoria_Eavis


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