Longtime Wyo County Clerk: Democrats Registering As GOP To Vote In Cheney Race

This story first appeared on Cowboy State Daily.

By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily 

Some Wyoming Democrats are switching parties to register as Republicans for the upcoming primary election, according to a longtime county clerk, prompting her to urge voters to practice their own form of election integrity.

Incumbent U.S. Representative Liz Cheney, who was censured by her own party in February, is being challenged in the Republican primary election for Wyoming’s lone U.S. House seat by Cheyenne attorney Harriet Hageman and others.  

Julie Freese, Fremont County’s clerk for 28 years, said she is hearing on-the-ground commentary from traditional Democrats saying they’re registering as Republicans solely to vote for Cheney in the Republican primary.

“We have had people come in recently to change from Democrat to Republican,” Freese told Cowboy State Daily, “and they have told us, ‘I am changing my party to vote for Liz Cheney.’ That’s what they’ve said, flat out.”  

Not everyone who makes the switch tells the clerk’s staff why they’re doing it, she added.  

“If they aren’t telling us why they’re doing it, it’s private,” Freese said, adding that “a large amount of people… are not telling us why they’re changing.”  

Freese said she could not accurately estimate what percentage of crossover voters are making the change to influence the Republican primary.  

“But that’s what the frustration is,” she added. “It’s been pretty boldly stated in the last two or three elections (including the current one) that they’re doing it to affect the other party’s race somehow.”  

Freese later clarified at a Fremont County Republican central committee meeting that in her duties as a clerk, she wouldn’t interfere with crossover voting because statute allows for it, but as an individual, she disagrees with it.  

Party Shift On The Reservation 

Every legislative district in Fremont County is predominantly Republican as of this week, which, because of the traditional Democratic leanings of one House district, is an unusual shift.  

House District 33 covers the Wind River Indian Reservation, which traditionally votes for Democratic presidential candidates and has elected Democratic state Rep. Andi LeBeau of Ethete, to the Legislature in the last two elections.

Bring Your Best 

The primary election “is the time for the two (major political) parties to take their best candidates to the general election,” Freese told Cowboy State Daily.    

Freese emphasized that primary elections are designed to be party-specific so true party members on either side can choose the candidate they favor before sending that candidate on to challenge the other party in the general election.  

“That’s the crux of the matter,” said Freese. “This is a political party process – and there are some that are playing the politics.”  

She clarified that the process of crossing from Democrat to Republican, which is one form of “crossover voting,” is and has been popular in Wyoming for years, for various reasons – some more benign than others. 

“It has evolved over the years,” said Freese. “In all my years, (registered Democrats) have said, ‘I don’t have anything on my (primary) ballot, and this is an exciting race.’”  

Freese noted that because most Wyoming counties are predominantly Republican, many Democrats receive blank or nearly-blank ballots for the primary election and regret not being able to determine the Republican candidate for a sheriff’s seat, or a county commissioner’s seat, for example.  

Because a legislative bill seeking to ban crossover voting in Wyoming failed in the state Legislature this session, the practice remains legal in the state, regardless of the reasons behind it.  

Freese told Fremont County Republican central committee members at a Monday meeting that she didn’t have much faith in the practicality of an anti-crossover voting law and would prefer for voters to practice political integrity on their own.  

“People are going to find a way to get to where they want to get,” she said, addressing the failed bill. “As soon as they figure out what they can’t do – they’re going to do what they have to, to get to that (desired party).  

“In any talks I’ve had,” continued Freese, “I’ve said, this is (the party’s) time to find the best candidate… it’s a process and I realize you want to be involved. Be involved by being one or the other party and maybe stay that way (when the ideology fits).”  

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  1. I’m shocked — SHOCKED — “there’s gambling going on it here!” Ha! Whoever didn’t expect this ain’t payin’ attention. Gee, Liz, what kind of “Republican” is whose chances to win a GOP primary depend on how many Democrats they can get to “cross over” and become pretend “Republicans” for the express purpose of winning the primary for you? Hopefully this news release will finally convince some of the egotistic Republicans to bow out of this race and force Cheney to win the primary on the up and up between one real Republican and one poser.

    • I’ve been wondering what Hageman will do if she loses because of the crossover voting and the spoiler candidates. I think she’d be able to run pretty easily as an independent and win a head on head race with Cheney. I don’t consider a Cheney win in the primary at all likely though.

      • What planet are you on Clark? Most of the state doesn’t ramble nonsensically.. Hageman doesn’t have much hope in this race .

        • I did ramble a bit but the fact remains that Cheney will be moving back to a private sector job next year and probably back to Virginia too. She won’t be missed by the vast majority of Wyoming citizens.

  2. Cheney is more or less a democrat for all practical purposes here in Wyoming right now. When was the last time we elected a democrat to congress (it wasn’t in the past forty years)? I dislike crossover voting but she’s still toast even if most democrats do change parties to vote for her because we’re simply holding the general election a few months early. I still wonder if republicans might “cross over” and start attending the democrats county conventions and take their party over at some point in the future, remember folks that the crossover knife has two edges.

    • >>Cheney is more or less a democrat for all practical purposes here in Wyoming right now.<<

      Seriously? Somebody who voted 95% of the time in line with President Trump can in no reasonable way be considered "more or less a democrat."

      • Her obsession with Trump has put her in the position of being perceived as one by all sides. Look at all the democrats who defend her and all the republicans who attack her. For all practical purposes she’s a democrat and I expect she will lose badly in the primary this summer because there aren’t enough democrats to change the political balance even if every last one of them changed party.

  3. This is nothing new. I lived in Nebraska in the late 90’s. People did this during every election cycle and were very open about it. Both parties participated.

  4. I wonder how many voters are switching BECAUSE they don’t like what the demoncratic party is doing, and finally see the light of what a mess the last two years have become? I think liz will lose and that will kill her political career, heck she might not even run in Wyoming and instead wait for 2024 and go for the Virginia Senate seat, she would stand a better chance………..

    • I have family in Virginia, I wouldn’t wish her on anybody! I heard Hageman and Liz go way back. If that’s true, she’s also a RINO! We need to weed out these RINOs and get some real people for the people in our government! I’m going with Bouchard.The other “Republicans” don’t like him. Just like the news media, if they don’t like someone, it usually means that is the one we want in office.

  5. I am really surprised that someone like a County Clerk is expressing such strong opinions. Her job is to make sure the law is followed not to give people advice about how candidates should be chosen and how they should vote. If Wyoming hadn’t made such a radical shift to the unreasonable right, democrats wouldn’t have to cross to elect a competent candidate. But, whatever the reason, it is their business and biased news articles have no place in it. All this accomplished was to make more people want to do it.

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