Montana Republicans want special committee to examine ‘election security’
HELENA — All but a dozen of the state’s 98 Republican state lawmakers have signed a letter asking GOP leaders to form a special legislative committee to examine election laws and the “security of Montana elections.”
The letter, addressed Wednesday to House Speaker Wylie Galt and Senate President Mark Blasdel, said many constituents have expressed concerns about “election security,” and that the panel would conduct hearings and possibly propose future changes in election laws or procedures.
Blasdel, a Kalispell Republican, declined to comment to MTN News until he’s had a chance to “explore the letter or discuss (it) with the speaker in a detailed fashion.”
The letter asked that he and Galt respond by next Wednesday.
Several Republican state legislators have been involved in recent forums or other efforts, around Montana, questioning the election process and suggesting that voter fraud or other irregularities may be occurring.
House Minority Leader Kim Abbott, a Helena Democrat, said Friday that Democrats would participate if the majority GOP decides to appoint a committee – but that Montana already has secure elections, run by competent local officials following election laws set out by the Legislature.
“The (GOP) letter offers no evidence that anything is wrong … because there isn’t anything wrong,” she said.
Abbott said the letter appears to be part of a national effort by Republicans to cast doubt on election processes, in the wake of false allegations by former President Trump that the 2020 election was stolen from him.
She also noted that Republicans won big victories in Montana, statewide and locally, in the 2020 election, which was conducted largely by mail.
Republicans hold a 67-33 margin in the state House and a 31-19 advantage in the state Senate, having picked up nine seats in the two bodies in the 2020 election. They also won every statewide office contest on the ballot.
Sixty Republican House members and 24 GOP Senate members signed the letter asking for the special committee.
GOP majorities passed several bills at the 2021 Legislature to restrict voting or voter registration, including stricter voter ID requirements, eliminating Election Day voter-registration, forbidding voter-registration drives on certain parts of state college campuses, and restricting who can collect or distribute ballots.
All of those laws are being challenged in court as unconstitutional.