Tuesday's general election in Wyoming could be canceled if a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the ballot is successful, the state's top election official said.
"Wouldn't that be interesting if there was no election on Tuesday?" asked Secretary of State Kathy Karpan, who is running for re-election. "We might have a problem."She canceled all campaign appearances Monday to fly to Sweetwater County and attend a court hearing on the lawsuit.
The lawsuit was filed Friday by Elaine Watkins, chairwoman of the Sweetwater County Democratic Party. She says new electronic ballots are unconstitutional because the names of Republican candidates appear above Democratic candidates.
The old ballots had the Republicans alongside the Democrats.
"What happens if the judge rules the ballot invalid?" Karpan wondered. "I hope we can still go forward with an election."
Twenty-two of Wyoming's 23 counties have similar new ballots with the Republican candidates listed atop the Democratic candidates. Crook County still uses paper ballots that list the candidates horizontally.
Karpan said she is confident the new ballots are constitutional.
She argued that Wyoming law allows county clerks to modify the format of the ballot - from horizontal to vertical in this case - to adjust to new technology.
In addition, she explained that Republicans are listed first because, under state law, the party of the U.S. House representative that won the majority of votes in that county in the previous general election comes first.
Republican Dick Cheney beat Democrat Bryan Sharratt in every county in the state in 1988.
The lawsuit asked the court for a declaratory judgment ruling the ballot and a section of the state election code unconstitutional.
State Democratic Party Chairman Chuck Graves said the party is not trying to interfere with the election or set it aside, but will push the issue if it appears a candidate has been harmed by the contested ballot.