Wyoming ACLU Reminds People About Their Voting Rights on Election Day
On Tuesday, millions of Americans across the country will go out to vote, and in Wyoming, it's no different.
People have already started going out to the polls to vote when they opened at 7 a.m., and many more will be there until they close at 7 p.m.
When going out to vote, there are a few things that people in Wyoming need to remember before being able to vote.
Antonio Serrano, the advocacy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Wyoming, said that the new Wyoming voter ID law hasn't caused many issues that he's aware of.
"We've got a voter ID law now, so people who weren't aware of that or haven't voted in the past few years might not have been aware of that," Serrano said. "So we've just been trying to do what we can to make sure that folks know where to go, how to find that information, what their rights are when voting. Just understand what the process looks like, that way we can try and get as many people engaging in the electoral process here in Wyoming...so far it seems like the voter ID laws are pretty cut and dry, easy to understand. I know in the past there's been issues when it comes to the tribal folks, their ID is not being respected or accepted at the poll. But that was a few years ago and I honestly haven't heard anything since about that."
Serrano said that an issue they've tried to help with is helping former felons to vote, as the process can be difficult at times.
"Another issue that we have been worried about is formerly incarcerated people, their rights to vote. Right now we have this weird system where if you were released on one day, you can vote no problems, you don't really have to do anything. But if you were released the day before, then you have to go through this crazy application and review process to try and get your voting rights restored. It adds confusion. Voting should be as easy as possible and when you have people getting arrested because they don't really understand that, that means we need to make things a little more simpler, easier for people to vote...when you're coming out, and you're trying to figure things out, and you get inspired to vote and care about electoral politics, and you find out you have to go through this process, that could look like a mountain that's unclimbable in front of you. And if you're trying to get back on your feet and earn a living and just get things going again, that might not be worth it. And just the fact that that huge mountain is in front of them, that's a deterrent right there."
After the passage of a law in 2017, first-time nonviolent offenders in Wyoming who were released after Jan. 1, 2010, are able to have their voting rights automatically restored, while those released prior to 2010 need to fill out an application and go through a review process before they can vote.
Serrano said that he hasn't seen much of an effort to change how felons are able to vote.
"There hasn't been very much. Usually, stuff like that just dies real quick. People just seem to not really care about incarcerated people," Serrano said. "I think there's a big stigma that they're there for a reason and they deserve to be there, which is wrong. They're there paying their debts to society and once they're out and they're done paying their debt, they should have the right to be part of Wyoming just as much as anyone else, which includes voting...I can't tell you the last time someone tried to bring a bill or an amendment for that."
If you're unsure of where or how to vote in Natrona County, check out this article for more information.