Montana Public Radio

Christi Jacobsen: 2020 General Election Q&A

Oct 9, 2020

Montana Public Radio is gathering information on all statewide general election candidates to publish as a resource for our audience. We asked all the statewide candidates to respond to the following questions via email, limiting their answers to 150 words per question. These are their unedited responses.

Christi Jacobsen is the 2020 Republican candidate for secretary of state.

What makes you the best candidate for secretary of state and how do you stand out from your opponent(s)? 

I am the most qualified and experienced candidate that represents Montana values and will best serve Montana voters and businesses. I was born, raised, and educated in Montana. I raised my own family in Montana. I have a bachelor’s degree from Carroll College and a master’s degree in public Administration from the University of Montana. I have the experience to do the job of Secretary of State, so there is no learning curve. My opponent’s experience is only in the legislature and he has no experience in actually managing the electoral process.

What experience do you have in overseeing elections, interpreting election laws, and maintaining public records? 

I have over 20 years of combined public and private sector experience. I currently serve as the Deputy Secretary of State. In the last three years, we have successfully improved services to businesses and voters while reduced government and spending. We were first in the nation to go completely digital with business filings, offered businesses to file 24/7 and on their mobile phone. As a result, we eliminated 50,000 errors on business filings, reduced staff by a third, consolidated government leases from 4 locations to 1, and saved millions of dollars. We served our voters by strengthening the integrity of our elections. We completed a mail ballot improvement project that reduced the number of mismatched signatures on mail ballots. We made our elections more secure by being one of the first in the nation to implement the best security practices including two-party authentication. 

What are your three top goals to accomplish as secretary of state and how would you achieve them? 

  1. I will replace a vulnerable 20-year-old elections system. Montana currently is using an election system that is outdated and needs to be replaced. This issue is a number one priority for me.
  2. Oppose automatic on-line voter registration which is the gateway to illegal immigrants voting. I will protect the sanctity of our electoral process and make it easier and more seamless to register to vote, so our citizens can actually register and vote but non-citizens remain outside of our electoral process. 
  3. Protect the right for voters who like to vote in-person at the polls. 
  4. I promise that I will not raise fees on businesses under my administration. 

The secretary of state is one of five statewide elected officials that sits on the state Land Board, which manages state trust lands. What are your priorities for managing these lands?

I will support all efforts to responsibly develop our natural resources and reduce bureaucracy. I will also promote responsible agriculture and make sure that state lands are properly managed and private lands remain in the hands of the people of Montana. 

How would your administration ensure all Montanans have equal access to voting? If you have specific policies in mind, please share them. 

I will make sure all Montanan’s that like to vote in person will continue to have that right and registering to vote is easy, taking away that right from voters is voter suppression. 

What are the most pressing election security vulnerabilities in Montana, if any, and how would you address them? 

The threat of opening the gates for an all-mail voting system, which was pushed by Democrats during the pandemic, and replacing an aging 20 year old elections system. 

Do you support counties having the option to run all mail ballot elections during the pandemic? Would you support Montana moving toward that policy permanently in the future? 

I support decisions made at the local level - however that has created a fractured elections system for this election. I support the right for voters to vote in person.

 What changes, if any, do you think Montana should make to the process for how people register to vote? 

I oppose automatic online voter registration, which my opponent supports. Voter registration should be thoughtful and intentional. Nothing about our elections should be automatic. 

What other issues are important to your campaign? (300 word limit) 

I will ensure that every student has a United States and Montana constitution. Voter education has to start much sooner than adulthood. Providing a printed United State and Montana constitution will ensure children receive a civic education in preparation for their future.