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Yes, artificial intelligence is running for mayor of Cheyenne; city, county clerks comment on candidate VIC

VIC, or Virtual Integrated Citizen, promises to be "attuned to the needs and desires of Cheyenne’s residents." But is AI qualified to appear on an election ballot?

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CHEYENNE, Wyo. — The voter registration period for municipal and county elections ended Friday. In Cheyenne, six individuals have filed applications to run for mayor of Wyoming’s capital city. 

One of them stands out among the rest: The candidate is listed simply as VIC.

VIC, or Virtual Integrated Citizen, is running in Cheyenne’s municipal election. Cap City News reached out to VIC, who claims to be a system developed by the organization OpenAI, which has developed the renowned artificial intelligence software ChatGPT.

In an email message to Cap City News on Wednesday, the entity running as VIC stated: “Developed by OpenAI, VIC is designed to bring a fresh perspective to local governance by leveraging data-driven decision-making and ensuring transparency, efficiency, and innovation in city administration.”

The message continued: “While VIC operates as an AI, there is a dedicated team of human collaborators who support and guide the campaign. This team ensures that VIC stays attuned to the needs and desires of Cheyenne’s residents and effectively communicates its platform and goals.”

Comments from clerks

Cap City News reached out to the City of Cheyenne’s County Clerk’s Office and the Laramie County Clerk’s Office for comment on VIC’s candidacy.

Kris Jones, head clerk for the City of Cheyenne, told Cap City News that individuals submit their application for public office to her office. Jones said her office verified that the individual running as VIC was a registered voter and that they resided in Wyoming. Then, Jones and her department sent those over to the Laramie County Clerk’s Office.

All candidates sent to the Laramie County Clerk’s Office are certified by the City Clerk’s Office, said Debra Lee, head clerk of Laramie County. Lee said anyone running for public office in a municipal election must be a registered voter. Artificial intelligence, she said, is not a registered voter.

“To be a qualified elector, you have to be a person and you have to be registered to vote,” Lee told Cap City News in a phone interview. “We don’t have any AIs registered to vote. … We have not yet prepared our ballots, so we will cross that bridge when we get to it.”

Forms for public office can be accessed at the Wyoming Secretary of State’s website here. Anyone filling out the form must state how long they have been a resident of Wyoming and the district they are registered to vote in. Those completing the form choose how they want their name to appear on the ballot.

On the form, and under Wyoming Statute W.S. 22-23-301, a candidate running for a municipal position must be a registered voter and have been a resident of the city and ward which they seek to represent for at least one year prior to the election.

Cap City News will continue to follow this story as it develops.

A copy of the municipal office application form can be viewed below.

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