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Montana Republicans File Another Challenge To All-Mail Voting

A 2020 Montana primary election absentee ballot
Nicky Ouellet
Yellowstone Public Radio
A 2020 Montana primary election absentee ballot

Republicans have filed another lawsuit against Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock and Secretary of State Corey Stapleton, joining an effort to stop an emergency executive order that allows counties to conduct this year’s election by all-mail voting.

Five voters from Park and Stillwater counties, including two Republicans running for the state Legislature, argue that only the Legislature, not the governor, can approve all-mail voting. They claim all-mail voting will lead to fraud.

Election experts say mail voting is being done securely and that election fraud is extremely rare regardless of the voting method.

Their suit has been consolidated with one filed last week by President Donald Trump’s campaign and the state and national GOP in U.S. District Court.

The local plaintiffs, including the Ravalli County Republican Central Committee, also argue that counties that conduct all-mail ballot voting will have an advantage over those that don’t, violating the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. Forty-five of Montana’s 56 counties filed plans to vote by all-mail ballots.

Bullock, who’s running for U.S. Senate against incumbent Republican Sen. Steve Daines, has said the original lawsuit appears to be part of a pattern of lawsuits filed by Republicans to limit access to voting.

A group of Montana county elections officials requested the measure from Bullock, saying they were concerned about hosting polling places during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A hearing for the suit is set for September 22 in U.S. District Court in Missoula.

Copyright 2020 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit Montana Public Radio.

Shaylee is a UM Journalism School student. She reports and helps produce Montana Evening News on MTPR.