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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Concerns Over Unrest Grow As Election Day Approaches

Election sign reading 'polling place' on a door at a Missoula polling place.
Josh Burnham
Montana Public Radio
A polling place sign at the Missoula Public Library.

The National Association of Attorneys general, including Montana’s Attorney General Tim Fox, issued a statement earlier this week urging people to make a plan for voting. The statement was also a reminder that voter fraud, suppression and intimidation are illegal.

News outlets from around the country have been reporting on sporadic instances of trouble at the polls over the last few weeks, like people showing up to polling places armed, or a militia group calling on its members to patrol for voter fraud

President Donald Trump has repeatedly pushed claims of widespread voter fraud related to mail-in ballot voting without evidence. Experts say voter fraud is exceedingly rare.

Fox said he hasn’t yet heard of any reports of unrest related to the election in Montana and isn’t expecting to.

“We’ve not heard, that I’m aware of, any organized activity that anyone’s planning to interfere with the vote anywhere in Montana; but that’s not to say that it couldn’t happen. But traditionally in Montana, we just don’t do those things.”

Fox said law enforcement officials track potential illegal activity or plans of illegal activity at the polls through the Montana All-Threat Intelligence Center. It’s part of a nationwide network that collects and disseminates information about criminal activity. 

In response to the national militia group, Oath Keepers, calling on its membersto patrol the polls, the Montana Human Rights Network put out a news release earlier this month saying this is a voter intimidation tactic and asked people to report such activity, as it’s illegal. 

Fox said he’s not just wary of unrest at polling places, but also after election results are final. 

“We may see folks exercising their free speech rights legally to express their opinion about the outcome of an election or two, and we encourage people to do that, but we also encourage them to abide by the law.”

Election Day is November 3. It’s now too late for Montana voters to mail in ballots, they must be dropped off at ballot collection sites. People can still register and vote through 8 p.m. on election night.

Shaylee covers state government and politics for Montana Public Radio. Please share tips, questions and concerns at 406-539-1677 or  
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