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MT’s Vote-by-Mail option up in air after GOP challenge


Big Sky Connection

Missoula, MT – A trial for a lawsuit filed by President Donald Trump and Republican groups to stop Montana’s vote-by-mail option ended this week, with the judge promising a quick decision, pending the October deadline to mail out the ballots. Critics of the suit say forcing in-person voting could disenfranchise people who are quarantining or protecting their health by avoiding crowds during the pandemic. Comments from Nancy Leifer (LIFE-er), president, Montana League of Women Voters.

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While many Montanans hope to vote by mail in the November election, a pending lawsuit could take away that choice. (Adobe Stock)


by Diane Bernard

September 25, 2020
MISSOULA, Montana - The future of Montana's vote-by-mail option for the November election could be decided any day now, after a legal challenge wrapped up this week in federal court.

President Donald Trump and other Republican groups sued the state over Gov. Steve Bullock's decision to let counties use mail-in ballots to help keep voters safe during the pandemic. The GOP claims mail-in voting is subject to fraud.

But Nancy Leifer, president of the Montana League of Women Voters, refuted that idea, and said lawsuits like this cause confusion and could influence some folks not to vote.

"This kind of thing throws suspicion into people's minds about, 'Well, oh gosh, is it really safe or isn't it?'" said Leifer. "And of course, the thing about Montana is that Montana has a very, very safe voting system. And there's absolutely no reason to be questioning it."

Forty-five of the state's 56 counties have opted to offer a mail-in ballot.

US District Judge Dana Christensen promises to make a speedy decision in the case, before the October 9 deadline to send out all the mail-in ballots.

Leifer pointed out that it's important to follow this case because if the GOP challenge is successful, then no one will receive a mail-in ballot, which many are expecting.

She said it would also force people to vote in-person, and a final decision might not come in time to request an absentee ballot.

"If you're for some reason unable to leave your house," said Leifer, "and certainly there are people who are under quarantine from COVID who can't leave their house - that essentially disenfranchises them, because they don't have time for the process to happen, for them to get a ballot and get it back in again."

A 2017 state report found that allegations of mail-in voter fraud during a Montana special election that year were inflated and represented only a small portion of the votes cast.

Support for this reporting is provided by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.




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