The option for counties to conduct the November election by all-mall ballot will stay in place. That’s the ruling from a federal judge Wednesday following a challenge to the statewide directive from President Donald Trump’s campaign and state and national Republicans.
U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen’s decision affirms Gov. Steve Bullock’s directive allowing counties to conduct the election by all-mail ballot voting. Forty-five of the state’s 56 counties have filed plans to do so. That option still allows voters to drop off ballots at county election offices in person.
Christensen wrote in his ruling that the plaintiffs did not provide any evidence that all-mail ballot voting would lead to voter fraud, a chief complaint in their lawsuit. He also rejected claims that Gov. Bullock overstepped his authority when he issued the directive in August and that the directive would give some counties an advantage in the election.
Christensen wrote that requiring counties to host in-person polling places would only "accelerate the outbreak of COVID-19 which Montana now faces."
Bullock said in an emailed statement that he's pleased with the ruling. He said, "Montanans can rest assured that our local election administrators will preserve the security and integrity of the election process."