An article by John Lott, president of the Crime Prevention Research Center, has revealed signs of irregularity in the 2020 election between Trump and Biden. The irregularity has been discovered in Missoula County’s votes, a 2,600 square mile region in Montana.
Last summer, then-governor Democrat Steve Bullock implemented a rule that allowed counties to conduct the presidential election completely by mail. In September, a court struck down a law that prohibited third-party collection of absentee ballots aimed at preventing the practice of ballot harvesting.
Concerned that such a move would compromise the election’s legality, a voter integrity group approached Republican Brad Tschida to investigate the matter. Tschida appointed a lawyer, Quentin Rhoades, who then requested Missoula County Elections Administrator Democrat Bradley Seaman to access the county’s ballot envelopes. Seaman agreed, and an audit was conducted on Jan. 4.
The audit team reviewed and counted all ballot envelopes from the Nov. 3 election and compared it to the number of officially registered votes. They discovered the following irregularities:
- Of the 72,491 mail-in ballots, 4,592 lacked envelopes. It represents 6.33 percent of the total mail-in ballots. According to Montana election laws, ballots without officially printed envelopes containing registration information, the voter’s signature, and a postmark indicating the cast time, cannot be counted.
- A few county employees admitted to auditors that some of the envelopes might have accidentally been counted twice.
- Many ballot envelopes showed similar handwriting styles, suggesting that the same team of people filled them. In 28 envelopes from a nursing home, all 28 signatures looked stylistically the same.
- The county elections office refused auditors’ request for video recording of the vote-counting process. Seaman said that the request was “past the retention schedule (of the videos).” However, Rhoades had requested Dec. 22, which easily falls within the 60-day window during which county records are mandated to be preserved.
Lott points out that the magnitude of potentially fraudulent votes discovered during the audit process is troubling beyond just the presidential race. Winners of the 2020 elections at the local level were mostly decided on narrow margins.
“The 2020 local House District 94 race was determined by 435 votes; that of local House District 96, a mere 190. In 2012, Bullock won his gubernatorial race by just 7,571 votes. Montana’s then-superintendent of public instruction, also a Democrat, won her race by an even smaller margin of 2,231 votes. If Missoula County generated problem ballots on the level of those cast during 2020, they may well have swung these statewide elections,” Lott says in the article.
Republicans in the state are acting to tighten election laws in Montana and have introduced two bills to this effect. House Bill 176 will move the late voter registration deadline to Monday prior to Election Day. Senate Bill 169 will update voter identification documentation requirements. Republican Representative John Fuller notes that proper identification of voting is necessary to maintain election integrity.
However, Democrats argue that these bills will suppress voters.
“Our current voting requirements in our state are working fine. We had a record turnout in the last election because of our fair and inclusive system, and it makes no sense that we are adding additional burdens to that. This will disenfranchise Montana citizens,” Democrat Representative Kelly Kortum told NBC Montana.