Montana Counties May Now Conduct Elections by Mail this November
HELENA, MT – Today, a federal court has upheld Montana Governor Steve Bullock’s directive allowing the state’s counties to proceed with conducting vote-by-mail elections this November—which 46 of Montana’s 56 counties have chosen to do. The directive was challenged by the Trump campaign, which contended that there would be widespread voter fraud in the upcoming election. However, the campaign was unable to point to a single instance of voter fraud in Montana in any election during past 20 years.
The League of Women Voters of Montana was a friend-of-the-court in the case, called Trump v. Bullock, with representation from Campaign Legal Center (CLC), successfully arguing that Governor Bullock’s directive was a lawful exercise of his authority to make Montana’s elections as safe and accessible as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The League supported the state in this case to ensure that voters’ needs are represented when an outside campaign seeks to limit voting options in our state,” said Nancy Leifer, president of the League of Women Voters of Montana. “Our counties successfully administered the largest June primary on record without incident, and voters’ health and safety were protected from COVID-19. As the pandemic rages on, vote-by-mail options must be available for vulnerable voters like seniors, those with disabilities, and Native communities. We can't allow political interests to jeopardize the welfare of our people and our democracy.”
“Our most important right as Americans is the right to vote and America should ensure that every eligible citizen has a convenient way to vote in the election,” said Paul Smith, vice president at Campaign Legal Center (CLC). “Absentee and mail voting are important ways to ensure that seniors and others at high risk from COVID-19 can safely participate in the election and have their vote counted.”
The ability to conduct elections by mail proved critical during this year’s primary elections in Montana, and the counties should not be prohibited from doing so again this fall. In his order, the judge wrote that Montana’s use of mail ballots during the June 2020 primary election did not give rise to a single report of voter fraud. Vote-by-mail is safe and secure, and the existing directive allows local officials to conduct their elections in a safe and secure manner that best fits their communities and benefits all Montana voters.
The Latest from the League
LWV of Montana filed a motion to intervene in Donald J. Trump for President v. Bullock, which challenges Governor Bullock’s August 6 Directive allowing counties to conduct the general election primarily by mail at their discretion.
UPDATE: Motion to intervene was granted in Trump v. Murphy, which challenges New Jersey’s plan to mail vote-by-mail ballots automatically to every registered New Jersey voter.
LWV of Mississippi filed a lawsuit seeking to expand absentee voting, waive the witness and notarization requirements, and set up a notice and cure process during the COVID-19 pandemic.