UPDATE: As of Oct. 31, the seven Wyoming counties that planned to use drop boxes in the 2022 midterm elections have continued to do so, disregarding Allred’s suggestion.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Friday, Oct. 7, Wyoming Interim Secretary of State Karl Allred (R) sent a letter requesting the removal of all drop boxes in the state. Drop boxes are special, secure boxes for voters to drop off completed ballots. According to the Wyoming Tribune Eagle, Allred asked Wyoming’s 23 county clerks to consider removing drop boxes for the November election by making “an honest assessment as to whether or not discontinuing the use of your drop box would cause any disruption to your voters.” Absentee voting began on Sept. 23 in the state. If clerks cannot feasibly remove drop boxes for this election, Allred requested clerks to do so voluntarily in future elections. If drop boxes cannot be removed, Allred asked for 24-hour surveillance and other limitations.
Allred was sworn into office just three days before this request, appointed as interim secretary of state by Gov. Mark Gordon (R) after Secretary of State Ed Buchanan (R) resigned to fill a judicial vacancy. In contrast, Buchanan had urged clerks to invest in drop boxes during the 2020 election. “I’m mindful of the fact that there have been no issues reported with the use of the drop boxes in Wyoming, but that does not alleviate the potential for abuse or destruction of ballots through use of fire or other means,” Allred wrote in his letter.
Allred’s interim term ends on Jan. 2, 2023 when the new secretary of state, state Rep. Chuck Gray (R), will be sworn in. Gray won the GOP primary in August and faces no opponents in the general election; consequently, he is the first election denier of the 2022 cycle all-but-confirmed to office. Gray has called the 2020 presidential election “clearly rigged” and hosted screenings of the conspiracy theory film “2000 Mules.” Gray has made it clear that he intends to ban drop boxes in the state during his term. (As a sign of Gray’s extremism, fellow Republican legislators in Wyoming have considered possible ways to limit the election authority of the secretary of state’s office in light of Gray’s unopposed race.)
The expanded use of drop boxes in the 2020 election in light of the COVID-19 pandemic did not lead to any widespread issues. Nonetheless, GOP lawmakers across the country have initiated an attack on drop boxes, an effort that makes it harder for people to vote. In July, the Wisconsin Supreme Court banned the use of drop boxes in the state, and in other states, GOP-led legislation and lawsuits have attempted to greatly curtail their use nationwide.