“Voter fraud!” claimed Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton, covering his ass before, during and after a Montana Legislature committee hearing. The bill in front of the committee was to allow an all mail-in ballot for the recent special election. Stapleton opposed it, alienating just about every county commissioner and election administrator in the state.
Instead, he did the bidding of then Republican Party chairman Jeff Essmann, who thought a mail-in ballot might favor Democrats. With no facts to back him up, Stapleton assured the committee that write-in ballots would lead to corruption and fraud. The bill didn’t make it out of the Republican controlled committee, costing taxpayers about $750,000.
Stapleton continues the “voter fraud!” refrain and Don Pogreba took him to task with this post. Alert reader Dan, in the comment section, pointed to a letter Stapleton wrote to the Missoulian today. Here’s Stapleton’s letter and here’s an outtake:
In fact, dozens of mail ballots in Missoula County did not have legal matching signatures for the May 25th special congressional election. How many of those 150 mail ballots with illegal signatures were forgeries?
Was it dozens or 150, Corey? Turns out there were 91 ballots with signatures that didn’t match. A quick call to Missoula County Election Administrator Rebecca Connors confirmed that all 91 were rejected. If time permitted, provisional ballots were sent to the voters who had signature irregularities.
In a Missoulian article, Conners said ballots are usually rejected “for reasons such as spouses or roommates mixing up whose ballot is whose when they are voting.”
One ballot may have fallen through the cracks, out of 47,159 cast in Missoula County — possibly opened by a neighbor, signed by mistake and sent in. Hardly forgery or “voter fraud.” A new, provisional ballot was sent to the intended voter.
Statewide, one other ballot irregularity was investigated out of 383,301 cast but there was no evidence of fraud. When questioned last week by reporters, Stapleton had to admit that he “does not believe the state is vulnerable to widespread voter fraud.”
The Missoula County Attorney’s Office responded to Stapleton’s Missoulian letter, correcting his accusations, and asking for a retraction. Stapleton refused.