The Wyoming Republican Party was having a hard time having its precinct committeemen and women actually show up for meetings — but its new solution is likely to be thrown out in court.

Local Wyoming news site WyoFile reported recently on bylaws changes approved at a recent Wyoming GOP meeting, in which an elected precinct person can be stripped of their position for not showing up at three meetings over a one-year period. The party approved the change after a wave of no-shows prevented the party from accomplishing basic governance tasks, and Park County GOP State Committeeman Vince Vanata argued the new rule was necessary after multiple precinct people failed to show up to even one meeting over a two-year term.

He also maintained that the bylaws change was not about “booting or kicking out people from the party,” and that Republicans were “just trying to put a mechanism in place so that we can be an effective organization.”

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But attorney Colin Simpson told WyoFile that the rule change might not survive challenges in the courts, given one major issue.

“It’s illegal,” Simpson said.

Simpson pointed to existing statute in the Cowboy State noting that a “vacancy in the county central committee shall occur in the case of death, resignation, failure of a qualified candidate to be elected to a precinct committeeman or committeewoman position, or removal of a residence from the precinct,” and does not currently allow for a vacancy to occur in any other way, like missing three meetings in a year.

In order for the Wyoming GOP’s rule to stick, the legislature (which is under Republican control) would have to pass a bill through both chambers and have it signed into law by Governor Mark Gordon (R). Alternatively, the Wyoming judiciary could side with the state party apparatus should the issue be litigated. But for now, that’s unlikely, as the Wyoming Supreme Court ruled in 2023 that state statute outweighs bylaws created by political parties.

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“But I also believe that the state party would like someone to challenge [the bylaw] so they can challenge the constitutionality of that statute,” Simpson told WyoFile. “Because the state party’s whole position is: They’re a private organization, they can do whatever they want.”

The Wyoming GOP’s attempt to crack down on no-shows is not unlike what the Oregon Supreme Court did earlier this year, when 10 Republican state lawmakers who refused to show up to the state capitol in Salem were stripped of their ability to run for another term in office. GOP state senators opposed to the Democratic supermajority’s policy agenda attempted to walk out in an effort to deny quorum (the minimum number of legislators who have to be present in order for a legislative session to be gaveled into order).

In February, the Beaver State’s highest court agreed that Measure 113 — a ballot initiative Oregon voters approved in 2022 — could be applied to the Republican senators who walked out in their next election cycle. This resulted in nearly a dozen being effectively forced into early retirement, at least temporarily.

Measure 113 was passed explicitly in response to legislative walkouts in Salem, and made it so any lawmaker who misses 10 or more floor sessions without permission will be banned from running for another term.

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