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When Montana Attorney General Tim Fox joined 16 other states this week in a lawsuit filed in the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the presidential election results in four key battleground states, he said that, given the lateness of the litigation in the election process, it is extremely unlikely the court will act on it.

Which begs the question: Why did Fox bother to join this rogue’s gallery of Republican state officials throwing the latest wad of spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks? What’s in it for Montana?

The GOP officials contend governors in the states of Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania violated their constitutions by unilaterally making changes to their election laws, i.e., allowing universal mail-in voting, when such changes should have been enacted by the states’ respective legislatures. Thus those results should be tossed and their Electoral College votes handed to Donald Trump, or the whole election should be sent to the U.S. House, or something like that.

But Montana Gov. Steve Bullock did the same thing, allowing counties to conduct the election with mail-in ballots provided all registered voters if they chose to in an effort prevent the spread of COVID-19 at polling places. Why isn’t this state’s vote being challenged? But it’s different here, Fox says, because President Trump won by such a large margin that chucking all the mail ballots wouldn’t change the fact that Trump won.

But if you’re throwing ballots in the dumpster, you’re not throwing out just one result. GOP wins for Montana’s U.S. Senate and House seats along with legislative races and ballot initiative contests would be tossed too. If Fox and colleagues get their way, wouldn’t all of those have to be overturned and retallied? And that goes for any other state where mail-in ballots were made widely available in an effort to stem coronavirus spreading through polling places.

Then there’s this: As a University of Montana law professor observed, if these officials had such a problem with how the election was conducted, why did they wait until a few days before the Electoral College casts ballots, slated for Monday, to lodge this challenge? The whole thing smacks of a wild act of desperation rather than a thought-out concern for the integrity of the electoral process. It’s just one more among dozens of election challenges that have tossed by the courts.

We’ll have to wait to see how the high court reacts to this latest action, but there was really no need for Montana to get embroiled in this mess.

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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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