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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Cascade County faces a second lawsuit over recent election problems

Cascade County’s election administrator is facing a second lawsuit over her management of recent elections.

Four county residents filed a lawsuit May 26 alleging that election administrator Sandra Merchant mailed ballots for a May 2 irrigation district election after a legal deadline had passed and failed to provide signature and secrecy envelopes. Two plaintiffs alleging misconduct were Elliot Merja and Riley Denning, candidates in that election.

Two other plaintiffs allege errors with their mail ballots for a local flood control and drainage district. One says they were not sent a ballot, while the other says the ballot they received was for an incorrect tract of land.

All four plaintiffs request the court void both elections’ results and hold a special election at a later date. A lawsuit filed by the Great Falls Public Library earlier this month led to the appointment of an election monitor for the library’s upcoming levy.

Merchant and an attorney for the plaintiffs did not respond to a request for comment by deadline.

Austin graduated from the University of Montana’s journalism program in May 2022. He came to MTPR as an evening newscast intern that summer, and jumped at the chance to join full-time as the station’s morning voice in Fall 2022.

He is best reached by emailing
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