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County clerks pen letter to Secretary of State Gray refuting election denier

Douglas Frank, a prominent election conspiracy theorist, gave six public presentations in Wyoming, and met privately with lawmakers, clerks and the secretary of state.

The County Clerks' Association of Wyoming is refuting the claims of a prominent election denier who toured the state in March and April, giving public presentations in six counties and meeting privately with some lawmakers and Secretary of State Chuck Gray. Douglas Frank, a former high school math and science teacher from Ohio, also discussed his assertions of voter fraud with several county clerks.

"Throughout those meetings, we have concluded that Dr. Frank conveys claims of impropriety but provides no proof to support his allegations," Malcolm Ervin, Platte County clerk and president of the clerks' association, wrote in a letter to Gray on March 29.

Most Wyoming voters remain confident in the state's elections, according to a survey conducted by the University of Wyoming last July and August. And audits before and after both the 2020 and 2022 elections indicated 100% accuracy across the state. The voting machines first used in 2020 were more secure and sophisticated than any other voting machines used in the history of Wyoming's elections, former Secretary of State Ed Buchanan said while in office.

Notably, those machines do not include the software or hardware necessary to connect to the internet or to communicate election results externally. The same is true of the tabulation computer in each county. Despite those facts, Frank told clerks those machines could be hacked remotely, even claiming he, himself, has the ability to do so. When asked for proof, according to the letter, Frank recalled a time "where he supposedly provided proof of that ability to a secretary of state in a southern state.

"One would think that Dr. Frank would be eager to prove this capability but rather than proof, Dr. Frank offers an unverifiable story."

Frank is one of several who have taken their fraud theories on the road following the 2020 election, according to national media reports. Tours often include public presentations and meetings with elected officials who play a role in how elections are run and certified. In September 2022, the FBI seized Frank's phone, according to the Washington Post, in connection to a case involving Colorado's Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters. Last month, Peters was found guilty of misdemeanor obstruction of government operation. Frank could not be reached for comment.

"Secretary Gray meets with hundreds of people every week to discuss issues that affect them," spokesman Joe Rubino said in an email response to WyoFile's telephone inquiry about Gray's April 1 meeting with Frank. Gray was elected the state's chief elections officer in 2022 after running on a platform of unverified claims of "tremendous problems" with Wyoming's elections.

Rubino did not respond to follow-up questions, including where voters could get trusted and accurate information about Wyoming's election equipment since those details disappeared from the secretary of state's website last month. The website is archived here and explains how Wyoming's election data is collected and securely stored, among other facts.

"I am hosting a private Official's meet and greet with Dr. Frank where he can answer many of your questions," Karen Wetzel, a Lander resident, wrote to Fremont County's six lawmakers in an email on March 2. Last July, Wetzel organized the Republican-studded "Save Wyoming" rally in Lander.

"When Dr. Frank speaks in a community, he recognizes local 'officials' often desire to speak directly and privately with him," a graphic for the private event reads. "As he has specific election data for the Riverton area, he is making himself available for a confidential question/answer time prior to the evening's public event."

"This meeting is NOT open to the public, this meeting is for YOU," Wetzel wrote in another email on March 24 to Reps. Lloyd Larsen (R-Lander), Ember Oakley (R-Riverton), Pepper Ottman (R-Riverton), Sarah Penn (R-Lander) and Sens. Cale Case (R-Lander) and Tim Salazar (R-Riverton).

When asked if any lawmakers accepted the private invite, Wetzel told WyoFile "some of them did here in Fremont County but I'm not sure that they would want to be named."

Case, Larsen, Oakley and Penn said they did not attend the private meeting with Frank nor his public presentation. Ottman declined to comment while Salazar did not respond to WyoFile's request by press time.

"I'm not inclined to set aside those people who intimately understand our elections for some out-of-state individual who may or may not have an agenda," Larsen said. His confidence in Wyoming's elections was reaffirmed years earlier, he said, during an extensive presentation Buchanan and his staff completed for lawmakers with the manufacturers of Wyoming's voting machines.

"I didn't go on purpose," Case said, adding that he felt his attendance as a lawmaker would have brought undue legitimacy to Frank's theories. It was also personal - Wetzel has tried to sow doubt locally about Case's 2022 election win, he said.

"I was out of town when Dr. Frank was touring," Penn said. Oakley had prior commitments, she said.

Frank's presentation in Evanston drew a large crowd, according to the Uinta County Herald, wherein Frank encouraged attendees to go canvassing to verify that household head counts match voter rolls.

"I'm not just here to convince you there is fraud," Frank told the audience according to the Herald. "I'm here to light fires, and then throw gasoline on those fires."

Such canvassing won't provide a complete picture, according to the clerks' association.

"Remember that often a voter neglects updating their registration when they move within the same county. Therefore, there will be some individuals on voter rolls who have moved since the roll was updated," the letter states. "Some responsibility must be placed upon the voter."

"Perhaps the only significant hard data Dr. Frank presents is that Wyoming voter rolls swell prior to a presidential election and shrink following the midterm election," according to the letter. That alone proves voter fraud, according to Frank.

The clerks, however, offer a simpler, benign explanation for the regular fluctuations.

"Wyoming's ebb and flow of voter rolls is nothing more than heightened interest in the presidential cycle and a purge of voters who do not participate in the midterm general election," according to the letter. Additionally, as the clerks point out, voter registration in Wyoming must be made in person, and on paper with proof of identity - "therefore a paper trail is established for each voter in our state."

As is required under the Help America Vote Act, Wyoming's voter rolls are maintained using a centralized system. The clerks contend that while centralized information is susceptible to cyber-attack, "previous administrations have, and [Gray's] undoubtedly will, dedicate significant resources to ensuring the cyber-health of WyoReg." The clerks also point to the in-person registration requirement as a significant safety measure.

Frank also claims an ability to find thousands of ballots cast in each county that were fraudulent. However, the clerks "have never had a situation where our offices ended with more ballots cast than were issued, or more ballots cast than voters registered in the county,"

"To be 'Frank,' we have done our best to inform citizens of election security in Wyoming," the letter states. "Dr. Frank's public tour of disinformation seeks to undermine the positive work that has been done - and continues to be done - to ensure the integrity of our elections. If what Dr. Frank says is true, we will be the first in line to seek answers."

As secretary of state, Buchanan expressed in an op-ed the same willingness to look into allegations of voter fraud, including those put forth by "My Pillow guy" Mike Lindell. However, no evidence materialized, Buchanan said at the time.

"Unfortunately, Dr. Frank relies on listeners to take him for his word, and his word alone," the clerk's letter to Gray states. "Claims without proof provide us with as much assurance as an umbrella riddled with holes."

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