Fremont clerk defends staff actions

By The Riverton Ranger

Via Wyoming News Exchange

RIVERTON — Fremont County Clerk Julie Freese has responded to the Wyoming Democratic Party’s recent request that her office submit to an investigation by the county attorney in regard to two incidents from the 2018 election season. 

A statement by Freese states that, prior to general election day 2018, she became aware that the local Democratic Committee chairman had concerns regarding voter registration identification requirements. 

She said she met with the chairman to discuss these concerns.

Certain Democratic Party representatives had reported that a clerk’s office deputy “discouraged” American Indians from registering to vote last fall. 

The issue arose when, as Freese told The Ranger in November, prospective voters came to the Fremont County Clerk’s Office in Lander and were asked by a clerk’s deputy to produce their driver’s licenses to complete the process. 

In the Wyoming voter and registration form, the field titled “Driver’s License Number” states that voting applicants must provide a driver’s license number if they hold a valid Wyoming license.

Freese’s press release states that “during the absentee and early voting process, I was not aware of any voter who was denied the right to vote. In fact, my deputies made extraordinary efforts to make sure that all eligible persons desiring to register and vote were allowed to do so.” 

The WDP request for investigation, which was addressed to Fremont County Attorney Patrick LeBrun, cites a second incident the party hopes to place under investigation, in which an election worker at a polling station in Ethete is alleged to have required voters to read aloud an oath on election day. 

The complaint said that the reported oath-reading mandate was a literacy test, but it went on to note that a poll observer asked an election official, “What if the person can’t read?” The official responded that the oath was not a literacy test, adding, “We’d read it to them if they have trouble reading it.” 

Responding to this portion of the complaint, Freese wrote that “the election was overseen by election judges and observed by poll watchers and the voters, and I received no complaints. Had I received any complaints, I would have immediately investigated and remedied any inconsistency.” 

She also wrote that it is her belief that none of her election judges acted in a discriminatory manner. 

LeBrun’s office has not announced a decision on whether the investigation will proceed.