Northern Wyoming Daily News - Serving the Big Horn Basin for over 100 years

By Katie Kull
Wyoming Tribune Eagle Via Wyoming News Exchange 

Governor candidate Haynes' eligibility argued in court


August 3, 2018

CHEYENNE — The argument over whether a Republican gubernatorial candidate can stay on the ballot for the Aug. 21 primary kicked off Wednesday in a Laramie County courtroom. 

Attorneys for the state are asking Laramie County District Judge Thomas Campbell to suspend the campaign of Dr. Taylor Haynes over questions about whether he lives in Wyoming. 

They also want a general ruling on whether the secretary of state should have broader power to remove ineligible candidates from the ballot even after they’ve been certified and printed. 

Haynes claimed he lived in Laramie when he filed for governor, but the state cites documents showing the home on Haynes’ ranch, which straddles Wyoming’s southern border, is in Colorado, rendering him ineligible to govern the Cowboy State.

In a 2015 letter, the Albany County clerk tells Haynes his home address doesn’t actually fall within county boundaries, despite his receiving mail there via a local post office.

An attorney for Haynes pushed back on the allegations in court Wednesday, saying the Wyoming Secretary of State’s Office, which referred allegations to the court, lacks the authority to remove candidates from the ballot.

The attorney, Michael Pearce, said their authority to police registration ends once it certifies and prints the ballots. 

But Deputy Attorney General Ryan Schelhaas disagreed, saying the secretary of state had “implicit” power to remove ineligible candidates as Wyoming’s chief election officer. 

He urged the court to move quickly. 

“(This is about) the integrity of the electoral system,” Schelhaas said. “It has to be fixed when problems come up.” 

He acknowledged county canvassing boards or election challenges could also address Haynes’ eligibility. But he said both of those options could only work after the primary election and could drag the issue out further by potentially forcing another contest. 

“I don’t think the voters of Wyoming want to wait,” he said. “I think there’s a lot at stake here.”

But Pearce maintained the Secretary of State’s Office had missed its chance, and that the other remedies could solve the problem. 

“The statutes certainly discuss other options, (but they) do not discuss the resolution they’re asking for,” he said. “We want to make sure we get this right. We don’t want to move too quickly.”

A trial on the issue of Haynes’ eligibility is set for 9 a.m. Tuesday, and Camp-bell will likely issue a ruling in the coming days about the legal authority of the state to bring the lawsuit.


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