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Mon January 17, 2011
ACLU Monitors Legislative Session
By Tristan Ahtone
LARAMIE, wyo – The Wyoming chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is monitoring a number of proposed bills in this year's legislative session... Among them, a proposal to allow county commissioners to amend county voting districts without elections.
Linda Burt with the ACLU says the bill is most likely a result of the ongoing voting rights case in Fremont County. In that case, a judge ruled that Fremont County's longtime system of electing county commissioners from one, county-wide district violated the Voting Rights Act. Under the proposed bill, counties would be redrawn into five districts, and hybridized into at-large and single-member districts. The ACLU's Burt says this would allow county commissioners to make decisions about how their voters could vote for county commissioners.
"The county commissioners themselves would make that decision about how voters were going to vote, whether they were going to be able to vote for someone within their own voting district or whether they were going to vote for someone outside their voting district," says Burt. "I believe it's a bill that further complicates the voting situation for counties in Wyoming."
Burt says that, if passed, the bill would not affect the Fremont County ruling. But she also says that it could be used to dilute or isolate minority voters in the future.