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Making All Votes Count in Wyoming

Residents who received letters questioning their citizenship status are encouraged to bring official identification or naturalization papers to polls. (Pixabay)
Residents who received letters questioning their citizenship status are encouraged to bring official identification or naturalization papers to polls. (Pixabay)
November 7, 2016

CHEYENNE, Wyo. -- The ACLU of Wyoming is advising residents to bring documentation of their citizenship to the polls Tuesday, in the wake of a correspondence from the Secretary of State's office questioning the legal status of some voters.

Sabrina King, policy director with the ACLU of Wyoming, said no one should be blocked from voting because of an unconfirmed suspicion.

"Any correspondence that comes out that might make people afraid to vote, or would maybe send the message that you're not welcomed to vote here, is a message that we don't want to be sending to voters,” King said.

According to King, the agency, headed by Ed Murray, sent county clerks a list of registered voters whose citizenship they questioned. She said that even though some of the voters’ statuses were on file, many received letters asking them to confirm their citizenship before they would be allowed to vote. The Secretary of State's office said their efforts to uphold the law would actually help ensure voters don't experience barriers at the polls.

King said it's important that voters bring documentation, such as valid official identification or naturalization papers, to the polls.

"There are actually some people who have been removed from the voter list because of this,” King said. "So you can do same-day registration. If you have your papers with you, you can register right there at the polls and you can still vote."

Wyoming has a long history of open elections - it was the first state to allow women to vote - and typically has a higher turnout than other states, King noted. But she said since local races are frequently determined by a handful of votes, it's critical to make sure everyone has a chance to cast a ballot.

"That is what we are here to do as voters, is to ensure that our government is providing the best services to everyone,” she said. "And that is all of our citizens, whether they were recently naturalized or a fifth-generation rancher."

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - WY