Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton was so excited to announce VOTER FRAUD in Montana that he leaped to Twitter today before the huge story could break in the Missoulian that one ballot may have been incorrectly sent in during the Montana Special Election.
About nine this morning Stapleton’s office posted this tweet before going silent:
— Corey Stapleton (@Stapleton_MT) June 16, 2017
The actual damage from this moment of “voter fraud” is hard to calculate, as later reporting from Jayme Fraser on Twitter indicates that the system worked and the vote was not counted:
Not counted. Voter was issued new provisional.
— Jayme Fraser (@JaymeKFraser) June 16, 2017
And Missoula County quickly put Stapleton in his place, issuing this response:
Missoula County takes allegations of voter fraud very seriously. However, Secretary of State Corey Stapleton’s implication that there are pervasive ballot security issues in Missoula County is misleading. In the May 2017 Special Election, there were 47,159 ballots cast in Missoula County. There were 381,416 votes cast statewide. To the best of Missoula County’s knowledge there was only one report of a voting irregularity involving a single absentee ballot. The elections office investigated the matter as soon as it came to light and notified the Secretary of State. To suggest that there are serious ballot security issues based upon an isolated incident is simply inaccurate and a disservice to the public.
Massively concerned as he was about the potential threat posed by one ballot cast inappropriately, Stapleton was conspicuously silent about real voter suppression in Montana that keeps Indians from the polls. Yesterday, Montana Public Radio reported that voters in Browning had to wait as long as sixty minutes outside to cast their ballots. Stapleton had nothing to say about that, nor the fact that many traditional polling places on the reservation were closed during the special election, making it much more difficult for voters to get to the polls.
Stapleton’s lack of concern for the real threat of voter suppression on reservations should come as no surprise, given his opposition to satellite offices on reservations that help voters get to the polls.
Stapleton also, as you might recall, made a fool of himself during legislative testimony about an all-mail election that would have saved Montana counties hundreds of thousands of dollars. After admitting that he regularly voted by mail himself, Stapleton told the legislature that Montana should resist mail voting to prevent the scourge of MARIJUANA:
“If you look at the three states that have done it, you can see that populism and direct democracy at its best, all three states – Oregon, Washington and Colorado – they do all-mail-in ballots and they’re all marijuana-all-the-time states too. Is that what you want? Because that’s what you’re going to get.”
There is real election fraud going on in the United States, but it’s not the trumped up, hyperbolic claims about individuals breaking the law that Republicans like to talk about but never prove. The real fraud? Systematic efforts to disenfranchise people of color and the poor.
If Secretary Stapleton were truly concerned about the integrity of elections, he’d be out fighting for the right of Montana’s Indian people to have their voices heard in a timely, equal fashion, not blowing one vote entirely out of proportion before an investigation is completed.