Montana Public Radio

voting

Montana absentee ballot for the 2017 special congressional election.
Eric Whitney / Montana Public Radio

HELEN, Mont. (AP) — A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday denied a request for an emergency injunction to block most Montana counties from mailing ballots to active voters.

A three-member panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied the request filed by Joe Lamm, the Ravalli County Republican Central Committee and Republican voters, but said it would continue to hear the appeal. The first briefs are due in January.

A voter drops off mail-in ballots at the Yellowstone County Court House June 2, 2020.
Nicky Ouellet / Yellowstone Public Radio

Many Montanans can now cast votes in the 2020 general election.

Lewis and Clark County Elections Supervisor Audrey McCue said foot traffic was pretty steady at the county building in Helena Friday.

The Montana Supreme Court ruled this week that only ballots received by 8 P.M. on Nov. 3 will be counted in this year’s general election.

With ballots already printed, Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton argued that temporarily abandoning the state’s 8 P.M. Election Day ballot receipt deadline would cause confusion among voters.

The state Supreme Court agreed and granted a stay late on Sept. 29, writing the extension would disrupt the status quo and interfere with the state’s ability to administer an orderly election.

A 2020 Montana primary election absentee ballot
Nicky Ouellet / Yellowstone Public Radio

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. 

A 2020 Montana primary election absentee ballot
Nicky Ouellet / Yellowstone Public Radio

Attorneys for President Donald Trump’s campaign and the national and state GOP argued in federal court Tuesday against Montana Gov. Steve Bullock’s directive allowing for all-mail ballot voting this November. They made their case in U.S. District Court in Missoula for why they believe the directive should be blocked. The governor’s legal counsel dismissed their claims and argued that the directive needs to stay in place.

Montana Public Radio’s Shaylee Ragar shared her reporting on the case with MTPR's Corin Cates-Carney.

The candidates competing to be Montana’s next Secretary of State sparred in a weekend debate hosted by MTN News. The Democrat accused his Republican opponent of working for a corrupt administration and said he’ll clean up the Secretary of State’s office. The Republican stood by her work and experience and labeled her opponent clueless.

Campaign Beat: QAnon, Carbon Tax And Cooney On Drums

Sep 11, 2020

Vice President Mike Pence and top Montana Republican candidates plan to attend a fundraiser hosted by supporters of QAnon, which the FBI calls a domestic terrorism threat. Gov. Bullock flip-flops on support of a carbon tax. A new ad accuses Sen. Daines of cozying up to Texas billionaires who own a big chunk of Montana. A new poll shows the Senate race a virtual tie. Trump's remarks about dead soldiers draw party line reaction. And Mike Cooney marches to the beat of his own drum.

Listen now on Campaign Beat with Sally Mauk, Rob Saldin and Gwen Florio, filling in for Holly Michels.

A 2020 Montana primary election absentee ballot
Nicky Ouellet / Yellowstone Public Radio

Republicans have filed another lawsuit against Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock and Secretary of State Corey Stapleton, joining an effort to stop an emergency executive order that allows counties to conduct this year’s election by all-mail voting.

A Montana district court began trial hearings on Sept. 8 regarding the legality of a state law that limits the number of ballots a person can deliver on others’ behalf.

Yellowstone County District Court Judge Jessica Fehr is hearing the first of two trials tied to the Ballot Interference Prevention Act (BIPA), which caps the number of absentee ballots a person or group can drop off for someone else at six.

Montana absentee ballot for the 2017 special congressional election.
Eric Whitney / Montana Public Radio

As of Friday, 45 of Montana’s 56 counties have filed plans to hold all-mail elections this November after Gov. Steve Bullock issued a directive in August allowing counties to do so. However, some people are pushing back against the measure and Republican officials have filed a lawsuit trying to stop it.

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