By Molly Messick
Lander, Wy – Plaintiffs in the Fremont County voting rights case say the county is delaying a resolution in the case by asking that a federal judge amend his ruling. U.S. District Judge Alan Johnson ruled in April that Fremont County's system of electing county commissioners in at-large elections dilutes the Native American vote, and he directed the county to establish single-member districts. Lawyers for the county say the judge is not able to require a specific voting plan. But Gary Collins of the Northern Arapaho tribe a plaintiff in the case... says the county's move is slowing down negotiations.
"The procedure established by the county right now in terms of asking the judge to change his order and ultimately if that's not done would go into an appeal process - that just prolongs further the opportunity for the population to vote, Indian and non-Indian."
Fremont County is supposed to submit its voting plan to the judge by June 30th. Lawyers representing the plaintiffs in the case believe the county wants to propose creating one district for the Wind River Indian Reservation, while continuing to elect the remaining four county commissioners at-large. They say that would be unacceptable.