The News Editorial: A difficult decision
August 11, 2022
Several years ago I decided as a journalist I would register as unaffiliated or independent. I realized the difficulties that would entail, especially in the Big Horn Basin where many county races are decided in the primary, but I still felt it was the right thing to do.
A few times I have switched my affiliation from unaffiliated to Republican to have a say in local races.
One year in Big Horn County I opted not to change and luckily I was able to still cast a vote in the primary, albeit only for town council races.
Two years I did not switch affiliations and did not vote in the primary election here. It was difficult and frustrating.
While I feel that as a journalist I should not be tied to any particular party, I also feel as a voter that there is no party that fits all my thoughts and beliefs so until there is a party that I feel fits into my idea of a political party, unaffiliated is a good fit for me. I know there are many like me as well – us independents that most people forget about in elections, but play important factors in races.
I realize there are many, if not the majority of the Republicans in this county, that will be frustrated to hear that this year I again changed my party affiliation, and after the 30-day waiting period I will be changing back to be unaffiliated.
This was not an easy decision. I discussed it ad nauseum at work. I knew there were two important county races — sheriff and county commissioner. But there are also several important state races including governor, secretary of state and superintendent of public instruction, as well as, of course, U.S. House.
I know this could be the last election where I can change my party affiliation as late as I did since there is a strong movement by the Republican Party to limit voters from changing party affiliation.
At one point I even told one Republican that I would not change my affiliation since they are so opposed to the idea of people changing party affiliation.
But, the more I learned about the candidates, I realized what I needed to do. I needed to have my voice heard and let’s be honest in this red state of Wyoming and the Republican-dominated Big Horn Basin, for your voice to be heard, no matter what party you may belong to in your heart, you really have to be Republican to make that vote count.
There was another reason I opted to change my affiliation this year. Not voting at all two years ago (yes, I voted in the general election) was difficult for me. I take my right to vote seriously, as an American and as a woman. I know many people fought hard to give me that right to vote and I never want to take it for granted.
Just because we are tied to a two-party system should not hinder me from being able to vote and that is ultimately why I changed affiliations this year. I want to exercise my right to vote.
I will walk proudly into the Worland Community Center Complex on Tuesday to cast my votes, as an American, a Wyomingite, a Washakie County resident and as a woman.
I hope you will also exercise your right to vote as well.
Local information will be posted online by the weekend to help voters.
One more note about voting, as I was driving home for lunch on Monday and thinking of this editorial I was struck by a thought that it would be great if voters actually got to vote for the best candidate, regardless of party affiliation in the primary. In other words, do away with the party system. Each race could be like the municipal races in Wyoming, non-partisan with the top two vote-getters advancing to the general.
Afterall we have the right to vote and the Constitution does not require that you belong to any party to exercise that right.
Just think if we could look at candidates as hometown residents and not Republican or Democrat, if we could look at our Congressional delegates as Americans and not Republican or Democrat.
Voters can find out what candidates stand for without party affiliation, but I realize that is my unaffiliated thinking coming to light. Until then I will work within the system that we have.
And again, a friendly reminder, don’t forget to vote Tuesday, it’s your right.