In an uncommon show of restraint, Montana lawmakers rejected an effort to call a special session that would have met to form a special committee to investigate election security. Just 44 of 150 lawmakers voted for the session; 60 voted against it and 45 did not submit a ballot.
Praise be for that.
We need such a committee like we need a hole in the head. Montana elections have been conducted fairly and securely throughout the state’s history. The effort to besmirch election security was a response to a national Republican Party movement to make voting harder for minority, low-income and young voters — groups the party perceives to be left-leaning.
To be sure, the GOP-controlled Legislature has already done plenty to accomplish those ends. During the 2021 regular session, Montana lawmakers passed bills that:
- Eliminate voter registration on Election Day.
- Add new restrictions to the state’s voter ID requirements.
- Purge voters from registration rolls more often. If you miss voting in an election, you may be labeled an inactive voter and will not be sent a mail ballot. You can still vote in person, but if your address has changed since you registered, you will be denied an opportunity to vote.
- New voters will not be given a ballot until they are 18, even though they will be 18 on Election Day.
Let’s be candid: Efforts to undermine confidence in our elections are just more culture war nonsense promulgated by conservatives. A handful of Montana GOP lawmakers even went so far as to try to impugn the results of voting in Missoula County. Acting through the so-called “Montana Election Integrity Project,” they alleged some 6% more votes were cast in the last election than there were envelopes accompanying them. Much more clearheaded local Republican Party officials paid for an official recount that disproved the Montana Election Integrity Project allegations.
The fact that enough GOP legislators saw fit to reject the special session effort to further undermine confidence in our elections is encouraging. Let’s hope we see some more of that kind of common sense when they meet again next January.