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Amid the groundswell of misinformation aimed at sowing distrust in our electoral process comes some encouraging news: A bipartisan group of state lawmakers, local election officials and the Montana Association of Counties has been meeting quietly to discuss ways to increase voter confidence in how elections are conducted.

The group has met twice, most recently in April, and also includes a representative from Republican Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen’s office and Commissioner of Political Practices Jeff Mangan, an appointee of former Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock.

What’s most encouraging about this effort is that it is bipartisan. Inter-party cooperation has become almost nonexistent in the extremely partisan atmosphere in which we live. The efforts of this group become much more significant because members of both parties are involved. It helps ensure the conclusions they arrive at are unbiased and, therefore, more trustworthy.

On both the national and state level, Republican lawmakers have been methodically spreading falsehoods about election results — particularly those of the 2020 election. This despite the fact the GOP scored sweeping victories across the state and nation in that election. The party’s thinly veiled strategy has been to make voting more difficult for those of less means — students, minorities, the elderly on limited incomes — because they are perceived to be left-leaning in their ideologies.

In Montana, the 2020 GOP-controlled Legislature passed laws to eliminate Election Day voter registration, require photo IDs to vote (except student IDs are not accepted) and purge voter registration rolls more frequently. Those laws have been challenged — with some provisions blocked by the court while litigation progresses.

A representative democracy like ours functions best when the maximum number of voters participate. But U.S. voter turnout rates lag behind those of most nations in the developed world. We need to make it easier, not harder, for eligible voters to register and cast ballots.

Given the proliferation of demonstrable falsehoods circulating about our elections — and the willingness of some people to believe them — it’s hard to be optimistic about the future or this most basic of our democratic institutions. But this new informal panel of lawmakers and election officials hopes to find ways to accurately inform voters about how the system works and boost voter confidence by making recommendations in advance of the next legislative session.

They are applauded for their efforts and encouraged to pursue their goals with vigor.

This editorial solely represents the opinion of the Chronicle Editorial Board. The board consists of the opinion editor, the managing editor, the publisher and several community members. The community members are non-journalists who provide input and help shape the board's opinions.

The board does not represent the views of the newsroom, and its opinions have no influence over the Chronicle's news coverage. To submit feedback on this editorial, email

Editorial Board

  • Mark Dobie, publisher
  • Michael Wright, managing editor
  • Bill Wilke, opinion page editor
  • Richard Broome, community member
  • Renee Gavin, community member
  • Will Swearingen, community member
  • Angie Wasia, community member

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