A count of mail-in ballots in Montana’s second-most populous county found a “troubling discrepancy” arising from the 2020 election that has the attention of state officials.
The review of mail-in and absentee ballot envelopes was conducted by a group of Missoula County citizens in January, finding 4,592 fewer votes than the 72,491 that were tallied, which comes to a 6.33% discrepancy, and other issues.
Missoula resident John Lott, the president of the Crime Prevention Research Center and a Justice Department adviser toward the end of the Trump administration, publicized the findings in a post published by RealClearInvestigations on March 24. Such a level of potentially fraudulent ballots, Lott wrote, could have been the difference in local elections in which there was a small margin of victory. He also stressed how this review was “unprecedented” because it looked at all the mail-in ballots versus a small sampling, as was the case in other places after the 2020 contest.
The Missoula County Board of Commissioners wrote an op-ed published this month that slams what it called “baseless” claims calling into question the county’s election. The board also said the group of Missoula citizens behind the review failed to implement a “double-check process” for the public records review and that it undermines “the hard work of elections staff, both at the county and the Secretary of State’s Office, who followed established policies and procedures to certify the November election.”
The election materials were provided to the group of citizens after Missoula attorney Quentin Rhoades, who is representing state Rep. Brad Tschida, a Republican, submitted a records request on Oct. 30 to Missoula County Election Administrator Bradley Seaman. Lott stressed to the Washington Examiner in a phone call on Wednesday that the review was conducted in accordance with the county’s own instructions.
In addition to raising fraud concerns, Lott says “disturbingly,” the county’s video of vote counting is now gone. Seaman told him it “was past the retention schedule when requested,” but Lott notes Tschida’s lawyer emailed a request for it on Dec. 22, which would appear to be within the window during which the county must by law retain records, and there were conflicting signals throughout the process from the county about what it could provide.
“If you had that video, it would make this a lot easier to double-check everything,” Lott told the Washington Examiner.
Tschida sent a letter to the Montana secretary of state on March 22, requesting a meeting to discuss the “troubling discrepancy,” which Lott confirmed took place on Tuesday, and suggesting further investigatory steps. This was after Gov. Greg Gianforte told KGVO Talk Back on Thursday that he spoke to Montana Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen when asked about the RealClearInvestigations report. The Republican governor also noted he “repealed the prior governor’s executive order that mandated all mail-in ballots. So we are going to go back to polling places. I think that it is easier to assure integrity when we do that.”
With the review gaining the interest of lawmakers, possibly paving the way to hearings in addition to a state inquiry, the Missoula County commissioners argued that the citizen group would not dare take the matter before a judge. “If they truly believed their claims, they would challenge the election results in court, where Missoula County would welcome the opportunity to prove, under oath, that this election was free, fair and accurate,” they wrote.
Lott said it would be the secretary of state who has standing to take the matter to court, thus the meeting on Tuesday, and predicted that Seaman would have trouble under oath.
“They do not want to have their election director, Bradley Seaman, put under oath because he would be put in a very difficult situation in a deposition or trial because of the inconsistent statements he’s made over time,” Lott told the Washington Examiner.
“There’s a clear process that they could challenge an election result through the courts,” Seaman said. “We kind of welcome that process because that would help voters feel confident, because we know that there is no merit behind this.”
- ^ findings in a post (crimeresearch.org)
- ^ op-ed published this month (missoulian.com)
- ^ CULTURE WARS: STEPHEN MILLER TARGETS TRANSGENDER SPORTS AND CRITICAL RACE THEORY WITH LEGAL GROUP (www.washingtonexaminer.com)
- ^ request (www.missoulacounty.us)
- ^ “disturbingly,” (www.msn.com)
- ^ requesting a meeting (montanafreepress.org)
- ^ discuss (crimeresearch.org)
- ^ KGVO Talk Back (newstalkkgvo.com)
- ^ CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER (www.washingtonexaminer.com)
- ^ according to the Missoulian (missoulian.com)