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Bipartisan group digs into election integrity

| October 30, 2022 12:00 AM

Montana voters should be confident in the state’s voting process heading into the midterm elections Nov. 8.

That’s according to a bipartisan workgroup created earlier this year that took a thorough look at the state’s election process at the local and state levels. The group is composed of Republican and Democrat legislators, and officials from the Secretary of State Office, and the Commissioner of Political Practices.

“Montana’s election system is both sound and secure, and we must remain vigilant to keep it that way,” group member Rep. David Bedey, R-Hamilton, said last week in reporting the group’s findings.

Among the areas they probed were election tabulation machines, which Bedey assured can not be connected to the internet, adding that “it’s an absurd conspiracy to suggest otherwise.”

Voter tabulation machines are tested prior to elections and subject to random audit. Voting systems may not be used unless it is approved by the Secretary of State, who is required to oversee the examination of the systems by qualified technicians.

The group also looked into the signature verification process, which proved to be up to standards. Flathead County Clerk and Recorder and Election Office Manager Monica Eisenzimer described the process, saying that most people don’t know that election officials check individual ballots.

“They know the rule is that we’re supposed to check them, but they didn’t realize that somebody actually verifies their signature,” Eisenzimer is quoted in a Daily Montanan news report.

Absentee ballots that are rejected become provisional ballots, which are counted separately with extra review.

As speculation around the integrity of the voting process continues to swirl — according to one poll, 64% of Republicans say President Biden’s 2020 win is due to voter fraud — it’s more important than ever for this bipartisan group to continue to speak up and publicize their findings, reassure Montanans and quickly quash any unfounded claims.

Anyone with questions about the process should visit the group’s fact page votinginmontana.org. On the site, you will find frequently asked questions and well-cited myth v. fact comparisons that will help you vote with confidence on Nov. 8.

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