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Citing election integrity, Republican coalition renews push for a special legislative session

Josh Burnham
Montana Public Radio

A small coalition of Montana Republican lawmakers is making another push to hold a special legislative session to address what they call election integrity issues. They collected enough signatures to trigger a poll of state lawmakers on the matter.

The group of 10 lawmakers is asking for a joint committee to investigate the state’s election security, saying there’s “widespread belief” among Montanans that irregularities have sown doubt in the state's election integrity.

The request does not cite evidence of such irregularities, nor polling to indicate that it’s a common belief among voters.

The Montana State News Bureau first reported the request. A poll of all 150 state legislators will decide whether the request should move forward.

Montana Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen is preparing the poll and must send it out within five days. Her office does not have a total cost calculated, but will have to pay for printing, mailing and staff time.

The poll follows a failed effort last month by some of the same Republicans to tack election security onto the agenda for a special session that was proposed to draw new Public Service Commission districts.

GOP legislative leaders declined to provide comment on the poll, but were not supportive of the first effort to create the special committee. They noted previously that Republicans passed a number of bills last session they say make elections more secure.

Democratic legislative leaders say Montana’s elections are safe and called the effort “a taxpayer-funded campaign stunt.”

The lawmakers who signed the request for a special session are Sen. Theresa Manzella, Rep. Steve Galloway, Rep. Fiona Nave, Rep. Jane Gillette, Rep. Bob Phalen, Rep. Paul Fielder, Rep. John Fuller, Rep. Jerry Schillinger, Rep. Derek Skees and Rep. Brad Tschida.

Copyright 2022 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.