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Current Events: Missoula County elections audit update

Absentee ballots.jpg
Posted at 1:36 PM, Apr 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-11 15:36:00-04

This edition of Current Events takes a look at a recently completed audit in regards to the election results in 2020 in Missoula County.

“The Republican Central Committee in Missoula funded a recount of affirmation envelopes stemming from the 2020 general election. That recount yielded a difference of 71 envelopes out of more than 75,000 ballots cast. That resulted in an error of .09%,” explained Missoula Current founding editor Martin Kidston.

“And the reason they did that recount is that another group that goes by the name "The Integrity Project" led by representative Brad Tschida, also a Republican. His group led a recount shortly after the 2020 election and their recount came up with an error rate of more than 4,600 affirmation envelopes,” Kidston continued. “So, it was a huge difference. The Republican recount was held to disprove that the election was that inaccurate. In fact, their recount proved it wasn't inaccurate at all.

The fight isn’t over even though that audit proved there was much difference in the vote.

“So last week the county sent a letter to Secretary of State Kristi Jacobson saying, look this election was accurate, the error rate of .09% is within the margin of error. The other group, afterward, sent a letter to Kristi Jacobson claiming that the election was a fraud and she needs to investigate. They claim that they weren't given as many boxes to count as this other group,” Kidston said. “So, it's kind of a convoluted thing and they both look to Helena. One group is saying, look the election was fair and the other group saying the election wasn't fair. We'll see what happens next.”

Missoula County elections officials appear to be getting tired of all this criticism.

“Yeah, they are. They work hard over there to be fair and accurate, they staff a lot of people to be fair and accurate. And the recount proved the election was fair. The only thing hanging out there is this other group that's saying the election was not fair,” Kidston said. “The election people are getting frustrated by these claims of fraud and we'll see if those claims are ever founded but right now, they are unfounded. So, it's just empty criticism at this point and time.

We've been hearing that Republican leaders across Western Montana are concerned because they're hearing from voters who are asking why they should vote if the elections are a fraud.

“It could backfire on them. Obviously, they may be trying to play a political move here, but some members of their party are saying ‘what's the sense of voting if the system is broken?’ It's not going to bode well in the upcoming election,” Kidston said. “I think everybody needs to have trust and faith in the county's election process. And there's nothing been proven that there is anything wrong, nothing is inaccurate about it so. These are scare tactics perhaps, but we'll see if anything comes of it."