City of Casper Appeals Anti-Smoking Petitions Decision
Casper City Council passed a revised smoking ban on June 18 of 2013 that allows smoking in taverns, lounges, bars, private clubs and healthcare facilities.
Smoking still isn’t allowed in Casper restaurants.
The group Keep Casper Smoke Free started collecting signatures on a petition for a special election to reinstate the broader smoking ban.
Their target was 2,465 valid signatures, and then a special election would have been scheduled for August.
But the City of Casper City clerk V.H. McDonald said city officials validated only 2,393 signatures from petitions issued by Keep Casper Smoke Free.
2,465 valid signatures were needed to force a special election.
So the anti-smoking group sued the city and in late summer of 2014, they won.
Natrona County District Court Judge Daniel Forgey ruled that the Casper City Clerk had acted arbitrarily, when a number of signers for the Keep Casper Smoke Free referendum petition were rejected.
When the petition signers were disqualified, the referendum failed, because it did not have enough signatures, for the city wide smoking ban issue, to end up on a special election ballot.
Keep Casper Smoke Free argued that the reason the clerk rejected some of the petition signatures, was because the address listed for the petition signers, did not match the address listed on the clerk's record, when they registered to vote.
The counter-argument, was that if a voter changes addresses, and still lives within the city limits, then their name on the petition should still count, because the city does not have a deadline, to when a voter must change their registration.
Judge Forgey sided with Keep Casper Smoke Free, in a summary judgement ruling.
Now the city has appealed the ruling to the state Supreme Court.
They argue the city Clerk was simply applying state law that the address on the petition had to be the signer’s current one.
Kimberly Holloway of Keep Casper Smoke Free is disappointed.
Of course in my opinion, the city is still wrong, patently, glaringly wrong. It's still stunning to me how strongly the city is clinging to its belief that what they did was okay. You do not lose your registration status when you move. Period. When it comes to citizens' rights as voters, my presumption was that they would use the broadest interpretation of the statutes to be as inclusive as possible and treat citizens' voting rights as sacred. This appeal shows that they instead would prefer to be as exclusive as possible. It is truly shameful.
No date has been set for the Supreme Court to review the decision.