Martin Kidston

(Missoula Current) As the 2022 Legislature unfolds, the city and county of Missoula are watching the long list of bills currently in committee, taking an official position of support or opposition along the way.

On Tuesday, Missoula County voiced support for one measure that would provide additional funding to local government centers, and concerns over a separate bill that would allow county commissioners to request a random-sample audit after an election.

It's the first of many election-related bills to go before the Legislature this year.

“This would allow the county commissioners, in addition to the randomly selected areas that are audited, to choose countywide issues you'd like to have included in the audit,” said County CAO Chris Lounsbury. “This would also allow you to do an audit in a non-federal election. If it were a countywide issue on the ballot, it would allow you to request an audit on that particular thing.”

As it stands, county officials said, audits are only permitted after a federal election. But officials added that Missoula County's elections supervisor has concerns with the bill.

“He's concerned that it doesn't allow for uniformity across the state,” said county COO Anne Hughes. “It's something that's helpful to lean on in the face of skepticism about the integrity of any elections process.”

Hughes said the county would prefer that all counties are going about their post-election audit in the same way. Among other things, the county would like to see the Secretary of State be the entity that selects a race to audit rather than individual counties.

“Having a uniformed process statewide helps with that, as opposed to county commissioners deciding what they want for their county,” said Hughes. “We can express those concerns.”