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October 30, 2008
Maxfield explains constitutional amendments
LOVELL, Wyoming (STPNS) -- Wyoming Secretary of State Max Maxfield was making the rounds in northwest Wyoming Monday, explaining the two proposed constitutional amendments on next Tuesday?s general election ballot and urging people to vote.
There are two proposed amendments to the Wyoming Constitution on this year?s ballot, Maxfield explained during an interview Monday.
Amendment A would clarify and modernize the oath of office taken by all elected officials at the state level. Maxfield said the new oath would chop the number of words from 165 to 61 by ?cutting out a lot of redundancy.?
?It doesn?t reduce at all the oath taken,? he said. ?Rather, it puts it in modern terms. Some of the language is redundant. I?m hoping people will pass that.?
The new oath would read: ?I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support, obey and defend the constitution of the United States, and the constitution of the State of Wyoming; that I have not knowingly violated any law related to my election or appointment, or caused it to be done by others; and that I will discharge the duties of my office with fidelity.?
Maxfield urged people to study the amendments before they go to the polling place.
?It?s important for people to go on the Web site or look in newspapers and take a look at the amendment in advance,? he said. ?Because if you don?t vote for it (leaving the ballot blank), you vote against it.?
Amendment B would change the requirement for petition signatures for an initiative or referendum.
Currently, a petition must be signed by at least 15 percent of qualified voters in at least two-thirds of Wyoming?s 23 counties (16), as determined by citizens who voted in the last election.
Amendment B would change the standard from counties to senate districts. Thus, if the amendment passes, a petition must be signed by at least 15 percent of qualified voters in at least two-thirds of the senate districts, based on how many votes were cast in the previous general election.
There are 30 senate districts, so names from 20 districts would have to be gathered. In an average year, a petition would have to contain 35,000 to 40,000 names from qualified voters, Maxfield said.
?If I were to be trying to get an initiative or referendum on the ballot, in my opinion the proposed Amendment B would simplify the logistics of that,? he said. ?You need 20 districts and if you hire people to collect signatures, they could concentrate on seven counties.
?Laramie County has five senate districts, Natrona four and Fremont four. Basically you could go to six or seven counties to get enough signatures to get the initiative on the ballot. I wouldn?t be as broad a base as the current method, but everyone still gets to vote on the initiative.
?The question people need to ask is if they want a wider range of citizens (on the petitions) or a simplified way to get something on the ballot.?
Get out the vote
Maxfield is also asking citizens to turn out and vote on Tuesday.
?This election is historic and it?s big,? he said. ?We have two (U.S.) senators on the ballot at the same time, and we have an open (U.S.) house seat for the first time in 14 years. And it?s a presidential election year.
?In the (August) primary about 47 percent of registered voters voted (in Wyoming), compared to 46 percent in the primary two years ago. But only 27 percent of Wyoming citizens who are eligible to vote (registered and unregistered) actually came out to vote in August.?
And yet Wyoming is one of the easiest states in which to cast a ballot, Maxfield said. It is one of only eight states that allow a citizen to register at the polls on Election Day with proper identification. A person is not a registered voter if he or she did not vote in the last general election, but all a person has to do is show up at the polls on Election Day and re-register.
And yet Wyoming does not allow third-person voter registration, which has been highlighted in recent weeks by charges of corruption in some states.
?We get calls asking if ACORN or other nationally-spotlighted third-person voter registration groups are active in Wyoming,? he said. ?By law we don?t allow third-person registration. And we don?t allow electronic voice solicitation for votes.?
There is already a big turnout in absentee voting this election, Maxfield said, noting that 20 percent of registered voters have already requested absentee ballots and 11 percent have voted.
It?s easy to vote in Wyoming, Maxfield reiterated, noting that the new and improved secretary of state?s Web site allows a citizen to find out what precinct they live in and where their polling place is, complete with a map. All a person has to do is enter his or her address.
Maxfield urges people to check out the Web site at http://soswy.state.wy.us.
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