Big changes to Wyoming voters

Jess Oaks
Posted 4/5/24

GOSHEN COUNTY – Although the Goshen County Primary Election isn’t until August 20, a new law may have area voters thinking ahead, but only if they are aware of the big changes coming to …

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Big changes to Wyoming voters


GOSHEN COUNTY – Although the Goshen County Primary Election isn’t until August 20, a new law may have area voters thinking ahead, but only if they are aware of the big changes coming to Wyoming voters. 

The last day a party change can be accepted for existing voter registrations before the primary election will be May 15 and voters need to be planning if they are changing political affiliations, according to Mary Feagler, Goshen County Clerk. 

“The primary election is on August 20 and with the new legislation, the people who would consider changing their party, have to do that on May 15,” Feagler said. “That’s quite a way before people are thinking about elections.” 

On March 2, 2023, house enrolled act 70 became a law. The bill, originally house bill 103 “Political Party Affiliation Declaration and Changes,” passed 51-9 on the third reading in the Wyoming House of Representatives and a vote of 19-11 on the third reading in the Wyoming Senate. Governor Mark Gordon then signed the bill, which reads, “For a primary election, an elector may declare or change party affiliation by completing an application signed before a notarial officer or election official and filing it with the county clerk before the first day on which an application for nomination may be filed under W.W. 22-5209,” into law.

“After May 15 if you are registered as an unaffiliated then if you go to the primary and you live out of town, you’re not going to have a ballot,” Feagler explained. 

“Wyoming has always been big about having party changes because on the primary ballot, a lot of times there is not a lot of choices,” Feagler continued.

According to Feagler, there aren’t usually any unaffiliated electoral candidates and there is also a small pool of Democratic electoral candidates on the Wyoming ballot.  

Previously, registered voters could change their political affiliation at any time, however adapting to the new law will just require voters to pay attention to deadlines, Feagler expressed.

“It mainly came about because of Liz Cheney,” Feagler said. “In the last primary, she even sent out postcards and things like that telling people to change their party.”

“She was encouraging cross-over voting,” election deputy Jess Palomo added.

According to, crossover voting occurs when a voter participates in a primary election, voting for a political party which he or she does not normally affiliate with.

“The secretary of state (Chuck Gray), he was very for getting this law passed and I think that some people think that if there’s enough crossover voting then the person who’s not the favorite republican candidate could actually move forward because of the crossover voting,” Feagler explained. 

“This bill means a great deal to the people of Wyoming. House enrolled act 70 will stop the recurrent problem of crossover voting, a process which has undermined the sanctity of Wyoming’s primary process,” Wyoming Secretary of State Chuck Gray said in a press release.

Again, to reingratiate what Feagler feels is the most important part of the primary election changes, the last day a party change can be accepted for existing voter registrations before the primary election will be May 15.

“That is what I want people to know because I don’t want them to be surprised if they show up on election day in August and they’re told ‘There is no ballot for you’ or they’re like, ‘Well I want to vote for so-in-so,’ well they’re not going to be on your ballot,” Feagler said.  

“There aren’t people that can just be watching and say, ‘I want to vote for that person, but I am not in that party, so I’m going to change,’ that’s not going to happen now,” Feagler explained. 

Feagler doesn’t anticipate the change to be too difficult to navigate through. 

“On election day it might make for unhappy voters because if they are told they can’t vote that day because there’s no ballot for them,” Feagler expresses. “This law isn’t as big of a pain as if the residential law would have passed. That would have been difficult because then the election judges, it’s their job to look at someone’s proof to show that they could vote and that they had lived in Wyoming more than 30 days. That didn’t pass so we don’t have to worry about it this time,” she added. 

Feagler also reminded voters, Wyoming voters will be required to show an acceptable form of identification when voting in person.

“People do have to show their ID which it was already at the polls, you have to show your ID. Now if you come into our office to vote absentee or early vote, you have to show your ID,” Feagler said. “People can still call on the phone and request an absentee ballot be mailed to them. Those people we can still do it that way, we don’t have them show us any form of ID.”

Early and absentee voting dates have also changed, according to Feagler.

“That is another thing that has changed because it is July 23 is when it starts,” Feagler said.

“It used to be 45 (days), the same as UOCAVA (Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act),” Palomo added.

“Now more people have to show their ID in order to vote,” Feagler said. “There’s a lot of people who will come in and they want to request a ballot for them and their spouse. In the past, we have always just said, ‘We have to mail that ballot,’ but we will take the request from the spouse, but we are going to want them to have a written note from that person before it can be mailed. We want it in writing from the person requesting the ballot,” Feagler said.

Even though the law can seem like a headache, changing political affiliation is an easy task, according to Feagler

“They can come into the office, and we can get them switched,” Feagler said. “They just have to say they want to change their party.”

“For any new voter that period does not affect them,” Feagler said. “They can come in at any time and register to vote and choose their party. But someone can’t come in after the date in May and say, ‘I want to withdraw from being a registered voter’ and then suddenly want to reregister. That might be their way of changing (political party affiliation). That won’t be allowed,” Feagler explained. 

“The day at which political affiliations is cut off is prior to the filing period,” Palomo said. “So, you have to choose your affiliation before you even see which candidates have filed.”

“Something that people don’t realize sometimes to remain a registered voter you need to either vote in the general election,” Feagler said. “When you don’t vote in the general election, our office sends out a purge notice and all they have to do is return the notice or call us and tell us they want to stay registered.” 

Feagler added reregistering to vote isn’t a difficult process, however.

 Both Feagler and Palomo shared their concerns with mail-in ballots.

“I am sure everybody can see that the postal service has slowed down immensely,” Feagler said. “We are talking to our local post office, trying to get them to deliver things without them going all the way to Cheyenne and back but say, ‘Well there’s no way that we’re going to see every single envelope and get it from going.’ Sometimes it takes a week if we mail something from Torrington and it comes back to a person in Torrington, it can take a week to get back to that person, so people need to realize that when they are voting absentee, they need to request it.”

Feagler stressed that if the absentee ballot is not received in time, the votes are simply not counted.

Important dates to remember voter registration closes on August 5, 2024, for the primary election; voter registration closes on October 21; party affiliation for the primary election cutoff date will be May 15; primary election will be August 20; general election November 5. 

Early and absentee primary election July 23 – August 19, 2024; early and absentee primary election (UOCAVA) July 5 – August 19; early and absentee general election October 8 – November 4; early and absentee general election (UOCAVA) September 20 – November 4.