Montana Public Radio

Montana's AG Urges U.S. Supreme Court To Pick Up Latest Election Challenge

Dec 10, 2020
Originally published on December 10, 2020 7:49 pm

Montana’s Attorney General on Wednesday urged the U.S. Supreme Court to take up a Texas lawsuit attempting to challenge election results in four swing states that went for President elect Joe Biden. Congressmen Greg Gianforte Thursday also signed onto an amicus brief backing the challenge, along with 105 other Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Support of the lawsuit is the latest example of state GOP officials casting doubt on the November election results.

In a news release, Montana Attorney General Tim Fox acknowledged the high court is unlikely to take up the case, but said it “raises important constitutional questions about the separation of powers and the integrity of mail-in ballots in those defendant states."

The action came a day after most states, including Montana, met the safe harbor deadline to certify election results and lock in electoral votes before the Electoral College meets.

However, last week Republican Governor elect Greg Gianforte said during a news conference that the election isn’t settled.

“Litigation continues. That needs to come to its conclusion. We’re a couple weeks away from the electors voting. I think we need to let that process play out,” Gianforte said.

A spokesperson for Republican Matt Rosendale, who is succeeding Gianforte in the U.S. House, didn’t return a request for comment. Meanwhile, Republican Sen. Steve Daines spokesperson Katie Schoettler pointed to a past statement also saying the election isn’t settled. In response to questions from YPR, Schoettler referred to a Fox News interview Daines did last week.

“We’ve got to get all the evidence laid out and then courts will make their decision. The Electoral College will vote on Dec. 14, and I think that's what we have to wait for,” Daines said.

NPR reports President Donald Trump’s options for challenging election results are dwindling with mounting court defeats.

According to a fact check from the Associated Press on President Trump’s claims, “Trump’s allegations of massive voting fraud have been refuted by a variety of judges, state election officials and an arm of his own administration's Homeland Security Department.”

Before major news outlets called the race for Biden last month, Daines’ campaign solicited donations for Trump’s legal efforts while alleging Democrats were stealing the election.

In November, Daines spokesperson Schoettler wrote in an email “we’ve sent Daines campaign team to Arizona to help ensure transparency in the election there with ballots being counted." When asked on Dec. 7 how many staffers made the trip, she referred YPR to the Republican National Committee, which didn’t return a request for comment.

Political scientist Alan Abramowitz with Emory University said it would be extremely unusual for a campaign to send staff to another state to assist the electoral process.

“I haven’t heard of very many other Republican elected officials who’ve offered that level of support. I think that’s further than a lot of them have gone, certainly,” Abramowitz said.

Only 27 congressional Republicans had acknowledged Biden’s win as of last week, a Washington Post survey found. In contrast, Democratic Sen. Jon Tester congratulated Biden shortly after news outlets called the election.

University of Montana political scientist Christopher Muste says 2020 is likely the most contentious U.S. election in modern history. Despite the lack of evidence supporting Trump’s claims of massive voter fraud, Muste says local elected officials are hesitant to contradict someone with so much support in Montana.

“It might be dangerous to be out front and saying, ‘Well, you know, it's time now to move beyond this to congratulate President elect Biden,” Muste said.

Muste says Trump’s voter fraud claims could hamper bipartisan cooperation in Congress and suppress future turnout among young and casual voters who no longer trust the process.

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