Missoula County beams after GOP recount sinks allegations of ballot discrepancies
Missoula County praised its elections staff on Thursday after a paid recount of signature envelopes submitted during the 2020 General Election found that a private group's allegations of election fraud were unfounded.
According to the Missoula County Elections Office, the recount conducted this week and funded by the local Republic Central Committee found a 0.09% difference from the 71,924 affirmation envelopes counted by the county in November 2020.
The recount found 71,853 affirmation envelopes, representing a discrepancy of just 71 envelopes.
“Hopefully this puts to rest Rep. (Brad) Tschida's specious and mean-spirited allegations that he's been propagating, and we can move on from this,” Commissioner Dave Strohmaier said Thursday.
More than a year ago, Tschida led a group of citizens in alleging widespread voting discrepancies. The group claimed that it had uncovered a difference of 4,600 envelopes in Missoula's 2020 election after performing its own hand count.
Tschida, a Republican, alluded to the discrepancy when arguing in favor of changes to state election laws during the 2021 legislative session. It also prompted several other Republican lawmakers to demand an investigation into statewide elections.
Looking to put the issue to rest, Missoula's Republican Central Committee paid to have election officials recount those same affirmation envelopes. The results, reported this week, didn't support Tschida's claims.
“What this all boils down to is that Montana’s elections are safe and secure,” Missoula County Elections Administrator Bradley Seaman told the Associated Press this week.
With the matter apparently settled, Missoula County on Thursday approved a letter to Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen notifying her of the results. The county also planned to send a link and supporting documentation to Jacobson “in case she's interested.”
“As you know, this is a typical margin of error for elections,” the county told Jacobson in its letter. “It also mirrors the margin of error Missoula County reported in the canvass of the 2020 general election, which your predecessor’s office certified. We hope the result of this request helps ease concerns among voters and elected officials and reaffirms that Montana’s elections are accurate, safe and secure.”