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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Mistakes In Montana Voter Guide Cost $265,000

An image of part of the email from Montana's Secretary of State office announcing errors in the state Voter Information Pamphlet
Montana Secretary of State's office

The official Montana voter information pamphlet many voters have received contains formatting errors. An addendum correcting them has now been mailed out at a total cost of more than $265,000.

In an email yesterday, Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton announcedthat the one page addendum was being mailed.

Today, Stapleton’s Chief of Staff Christi Jacobsen said the information about Initiatives 185 and 186 in the pamphlet should have had proposed new language underlined, while language that was going to be eliminated should have been crossed out.

I-185 would enact a tobacco tax to pay for Medicaid expansion and I-186 seeks new regulations for hardrock mines.

David Brooks is the executive director of Montana Trout Unlimited, which is backing I-186. He says the language about it on the ballot itself is clear and simple, but he is concerned about the error in the voter information pamphlet because of the amount of campaigning around the initiative.

“Voters get it. They get that this is about clean water and promoting more responsible mining," Brooks said. "But I also think that voters deserve to get the facts and, again, they turn to the state for that when it comes to these legal language changes. And so it’s unfortunate that that’s been made somewhat more difficult.”

Brooks says the Secretary of State’s Office is handling the corrections well by making them immediately available online and by sending out addendums.

The Secretary of State’s office said it cost nearly $33,000 to print 471,000 copies of the updated information. The Associated Press is reporting that the costs for the rush job to get the addendum out were more than $232,000, including postage.

MTPR was unable to reach the Secretary of State’s Office for comment this afternoon.

Counties mailed out absentee ballots today.

Rosie Costain is a former MTPR reporter.
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