Jim Elliott

I am writing this column before the election, and you are reading it after the election and here’s my prediction; the losers will be unhappy and the winners will be happy.

I also predict that there will be at least one winner somewhere, who will not take yes for an answer and will demand an investigation into supposed irregularities in their own election for the sake of principle.

And I further predict that such a person will have won by a sizeable margin because nobody but a fool would want to challenge their win in a close election. Yes, there will be those who will believe that whether their candidate wins or loses, somebody cheated, and the winners should have won by more and the losers should have won, period.

In Montana the curious thing is that the people who have demanded investigations into election integrity are members of the political party that swept the state in the 2020 election, when Montana Republicans won every statewide race by wide margins.

President Trump won Montana with 56.7% of the vote, Steve Daines took his Senate seat by 55%, Rosendale his House seat by 56.4 %, Gianforte won the Governorship with 54.4 % and all other statewide contests went Republican by comfortable margins.

In addition, the Republicans took control of the State Senate and House by equally comfortable margins. But people are looking into “election irregularities”. Well, they say they are looking into “election irregularities” but it looks more like they are trying to gum up the works.

Nationally, some are requesting voters to vote late in the day. This from a story in the November 4, 2022 Idaho Capital Sun: “On Gab, a far-right social networking platform, a user with almost 6 million followers wrote on Oct. 22: ‘VOTE IN PERSON on NOVEMBER 8th! VOTE AS LATE IN THE DAY AS YOU CAN! This helps make it harder for the DEMOCRATS to cheat and create fake ballots.’” (Capitalization in the original document)

The whole thing reminds me of a person who thinks their spouse is having a secret romance. To prove it the suspicious person goes around peeking into windows, following the spouse from a safe distance to see where they go and who they meet, hiring detectives, cross examining their friends, in short getting the goods on the spouse.

And everything they see and hear points to the inescapable fact that, yes, their spouse is having an affair! The proof is there for all to see except no one else sees the proof because there is no affair there, except in the mind of the offended spouse.

That person is so certain that they are being cheated on that everything found out is proof positive of what they want to believe. A person who has their mind made up cannot be convinced otherwise. If you want a name for it, this is called “Confirmation Bias” where only information that supports the belief is accepted. So, no matter how open, fair, and honest an election is, if someone believes it is crooked, it is.

The Heritage Foundation, a respected conservative organization of long standing, maintains a database of known election fraud cases. It is not exhaustive, but it gives an indication of the rate of election fraud in America. They list one case in Montana which took place in 2011 where a man forged his wife’s name to her absentee ballot.

The county election official compared the signatures, was suspicious, and called the wife to tell her that she thought her signature had been forged. At that time I was Chair of the Montana Democratic Party and the woman came to me for advice about what to do. “Nail him!” I told her, and she did. Not yet listed because it has not yet been finally disposed of is the case of two foreign nationals who voted in the 2021 mayoral election in the town of Dodson in Philips County, they, too, were caught.

Montana election officials, Republican, Democrat, and non-partisan, take pride in the job they do in maintaining democracy and deservedly so. They are there to serve the Republic and her voters and deserve praise, not harassment.

Montana Viewpoint has appeared in weekly and online newspapers across Montana for over 25 years. Jim Elliott served sixteen years in the Montana Legislature as a state representative and state senator. He lives on his ranch in Trout Creek.