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Montana politics, elections and legislative news.

Citing election integrity, Republican coalition renews push for a special legislative session

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

A small coalition of Montana Republican lawmakers is making another push to hold a special legislative session to address what they call election integrity issues. They collected enough signatures to trigger a poll of state lawmakers on the matter.

The group of 10 lawmakers are asking for a joint committee to investigate the state’s election security, saying there’s “widespread belief” among Montanans that irregularities have sown doubt in its election integrity.

The request does not cite evidence of such irregularities, nor polling to indicate that it’s a common belief among voters.

The Montana State News Bureau first reported the request. A poll of all 150 state legislators will decide whether the request should move forward.

Montana Secretary of State Christie Jacobsen is preparing the poll and must send it out within five days. Her office does not have a total cost calculated, but will have to pay for printing, mailing and staff time.

The poll follows a failed effort last month by some of the same Republicans to tack election security onto the agenda for a special session that was proposed to draw new Public Service Commission districts.

GOP legislative leaders declined to provide comment on the poll, but were not supportive of the first effort to create the special committee. They noted previously that Republicans passed a number of bills last session they say make elections more secure.

Democratic legislative leaders say Montana’s elections are safe and called the effort “a taxpayer-funded campaign stunt.”

The lawmakers who signed the request for a special session are Sen. Theresa Manzella, Rep. Steve Galloway, Rep. Fiona Nave, Rep. Jane Gillette, Rep. Bob Phalen, Rep. Paul Fielder, Rep. John Fuller, Rep. Jerry Schillinger, Rep. Derek Skees and Rep. Brad Tschida.

Shaylee is Montana Public Radio's Capitol reporter. She previously worked for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and covered the 2019 legislative session for the University of Montana's Legislative News Service.