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Election monitoring group says they've found ballot errors in Cascade County

A mail ballot from the 2020 Montana primary elections.
Nicky Ouellet
Yellowstone Public Radio
A mail ballot from the 2020 Montana primary elections.

Cascade County Election Protection Committee organizer Jane Weber told MTPR some voters were turned away from ExpoPark at the Great Falls fairgrounds Tuesday. Weber said the facility has historically served as a ballot drop-off location for all-mail municipal elections.

That’s not the case this year. Cascade County clerk and recorder Sandra Merchant says voters seeking to drop off ballots or register to vote need to go to the county elections office at the courthouse annex.

Weber says the election monitoring group has found duplicate ballots, voters outside of city limits receiving ballots in the mail and some registered voters not receiving one at all. The group and Great Falls Public Schools trustees are pushing for county commissioners to remove election duties from Merchant’s office.

“We are seeing repeat, repeat, repeat errors — same kinds of errors that we’ve seen in every single election, and I believe that we will continue to pressure the county commissioners to bring that ordinance before the public,” Weber said.

Merchant said in a press release last week that her office was aware of some duplicate ballots. She said it was a printer error, and the ballots wouldn’t be double-counted.

Merchant’s first election in May prompted a lawsuit from candidates in an irrigation district election. The candidates allege that results from the election are unreliable due to mistakes on the ballot and in ballot distribution. That case is still pending before a Cascade County judge.

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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