Incompetent Corey Stapleton Just Cost Montanans A Quarter of a Million Dollars

I’ll be honest—I assumed we had reached peak Stapleton when Montana’s Secretary of State spent state resource urging voters to invalidate their own ballots by signing them. That led to Stapleton threatening to sue this publication before realizing (or being told) that there is an almost absolute right for citizens to laugh at their government officials.

But never a man to let a little competence get in the way of completely mishandling his job, Stapleton seems to have topped himself, this time mailing 417,000 inaccurate Voter Information pamphlets to the people of Montana.

How much will Stapleton’s error cost Montanans? A quarter of a million dollars, according to Montana Public Radio.

The Bozeman Chronicle’s Michael Wright reports that the error  led to voters not receiving accurate information about I-185 and I-186:

Jacobsen said the original pamphlet had several errors within the text for two of the most controversial ballot measures voters will consider — I-185, a tobacco tax to fund the state’s Medicaid program and other health programs, and I-186, a measure seeking to strengthen hard rock mining regulations.

It’s not just the cost, of course. Like many Montanans, I read the Voter Information Pamphlet to get more information about both initiatives and already voted this week. That Stapleton’s office could not manage another of its core functions—informing the electorate about ballot issues—done correctly speaks to an office in disarray, one so focused on boosting the ego and political aspirations of Secretary Stapleton that valuable staff have left and those left behind lack the leadership to do their jobs correctly.

Though, to be fair to the workers who put together the Voter Information Pamphlet, I imagine it was difficult to get Stapleton, a former Navy man, to pay more attention to the content of the document than its full-color cover featuring a submarine.

Like every time they’ve been caught in the Stapletonian zone of malfeasance and incompetence, the Secretary’s office refused to take immediate corrective action. Pressed for a copy of the changes that will be mailed to Montana voters, the Secretary’s office refused:

Jacobsen did not provide a copy of the addendum. She said the error only affected those two initiatives, and that the digital copy on the office’s website has been updated.

I’ve never been sure why Stapleton’s campaign slogan “Things That Matter” is plastered across his official state web page, but perhaps he should pay a little attention to it himself. When it comes to being Montana’s Secretary of State, what should matter most would seem to be efficiently running elections without falsing alleging fraud, certifying signatures submitted to his office, informing voters about how to vote, and giving them accurate information for when they do.

Stapleton has failed every test at every turn.

And while his do-over for his latest mistake will cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars, ours will only cost paying a little more attention and casting our ballots for someone who is capable of doing the job of Secretary of State.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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