Pinedale roundup | Election audit bill fails
WYOMING – Wyoming lawmakers on Wednesday rejected a proposal by State Representative Chuck Gray, R-Casper, to give the Wyoming legislature the power to audit elections.
Gray, who is running for Congress against US Rep. Liz Cheney in next year’s Republican primary, has made “electoral integrity” a centerpiece of his campaign. Gray also touted his visits to an Arizona election audit site inspired by former President Donald Trump’s refuted claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him.
County clerks’ offices are responsible for verifying elections at the county level. Wyoming does not require an audit of statewide election results.
Gray’s proposal, which failed by a show of hands of 8-2, proposed to place Wyoming’s audit department – which primarily handles financial and government performance audits – under the umbrella of the legislative branch. He also proposed to allow him to audit the elections.
“I think it is time for the legislature to take on this function and conduct financial audits, performance audits and – in light of the issues we have seen across the country – also have the discretionary capacity to manage election audits. “Gray said.
Gray did not explain the issues he saw with the national election during the meeting or in a subsequent text message exchange with a reporter from WyoFile. Gray also claimed that an audit program could be established without increasing costs to taxpayers, something some lawmakers have disputed.
Election fraud is extremely rare in Wyoming, according to the right-wing Heritage Foundation, with only three cases reported since 2000, none of which affected election results.
Gray, however, echoed refuted claims that the 2020 presidential election was “rigged” and riddled with voter fraud. During the 2021 legislative session, Gray successfully sponsored voter identification legislation. The emphasis on “electoral integrity” aligns the hope of the US House with national politicians such as Arizona Republican Congressman Paul Gosar and former President Trump.
Nationally, most allegations of voter fraud in the 2020 election came to nothing, according to a database maintained by the American Bar Association.
Senator Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, a member of the management audit committee and one of Gray’s opponents in next year’s race, accused Gray of making a political coup. Although he has said he has supported similar legislation in the past, Bouchard has broadly rejected allegations of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election.
“I am disgusted that you are pulling this election question because you are running for office here,” he said.