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Montana Secretary Of State Assures Elections Are Secure

Montana Secretary of State Linda McCulloch
Corin Cates-Carney
Montana Public Radio
Montana Secretary of State Linda McCulloch

  Secretary of State Linda McCulloch called a press conference in her office today to reassure voters that Montana’s election is not being rigged.

“This talk is not only irresponsible," she says, "it is woefully misinformed and is meant to create distrust and doubt in a system that has been in place and successful for centuries.”

McCulloch, an elected Democrat, says she has not heard talk in Montana of a system-wide election rigging, although that kind of talk has come from the Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Last week, Montana Republicans expressed concern about voter fraud in the state. Party Chairman Jeff Essmann says those concerns are in part a result of remarks by Trump.

“I definitely think that the fact that he raised the issue at the national level has raised people’s awareness," Essman said.

Essmann says he’s worried about the Democratic Party offering to deliver absentee ballots for voters, which has been going on for years. The Democratic Party says it does help people turn in their absentee ballots, for convenience. And McCulloch says Republicans have done it too. Essman denies that, and says that although delivering ballots is legal, that doesn’t make it right.

Last week, the state GOP set up a hotline to help people confirm their absentee ballots were reaching election offices. A GOP spokesperson says about two dozen people have used the hotline, and the party confirmed that all  ballots were received by county election officials.

Essmann says he’s also worried that students who come to Montana from other states could be voting more than once.

“I’m concerned about whether they are voting at home and then registering and voting again here in Missoula or Bozeman,” he said.

Essmann said it was a concern, but didn’t point to any evidence of double voting happening in Montana.

Secretary of State Linda McCulloch says there are systems in place to prevent people from voting more than once.

“Our county election administrators send out to other states when people move, and other states send into us, when people moved into the state, so that is a huge way we can make sure," she said. "But mostly, our state database makes sure that people cannot vote more than one time in Montana.”

McCulloch says that people with reports of voter fraud should submit them through the Montana Fair Elections Center. Click here to visit that site.

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