In its inimitable way, Congress has managed to make a partisan issue out of what we should all speak about with one voice: the integrity of our elections. Democrats introduced legislation to detect and prevent meddling in the 2020 election, but the Republican-controlled Senate refuses to even discuss the measures.

Congress may have bollixed this problem, but that doesn’t make it any less critical an issue. Numerous reports — including one from the GOP-controlled Senate Select Committee on Intelligence — have concluded that Russians hacked the 2016 election in every state. They did so extensively and they continue to interfere in our electoral processes even today.

Given Washington’s inactivity on this problem, it will be up to state and local officials to ensure the integrity of our elections and ensure every vote is counted accurately.

Only about 15 months remain before the 2020 election, and it’s a big one. In Montana, the governorship, one U.S. Senate seat and the state’s only U.S. House seat are up for grabs along with all state House seats and half of the state Senate seats. The stakes are simply too high to allow tampering with the results.

On the state level, Gov. Steve Bullock, Secretary of State Corey Stapleton and Attorney General Tim Fox are all seeking higher office. But it’s imperative they set aside sufficient time from their campaigning to investigate and head off possible election hacking. And they need to make their actions transparent, sharing with Montanans all actions they are taking to protect the integrity of the election.

On the county level, the commissioners, clerk and recorder and county attorney need to devote the necessary resources to make sure balloting comes off without a hitch.

And voters should demand from candidates for every relevant state and local office what they plan to do about eliminating the risk of election interference. That includes all candidates for the state Legislature. If they aren’t taking this threat seriously, they don’t deserve your vote.

If outside meddling calls into question the results of our election, we are in big trouble. If Washington won’t do anything to prevent it, our state and local officials must step into the void.

Editorial Board

  • Mark Dobie, publisher
  • Nick Ehli, managing editor
  • Bill Wilke, opinion page editor
  • Don Beeman, community member
  • Richard Broome, community member
  • Renee Gavin, community member
  • Sarabeth Rees, community member
  • David Swingle, community member

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