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Montana lawmakers to decide on special session on election security

Montana State Capitol
Posted at 6:42 PM, Mar 18, 2022

HELENA — Montana legislators will be polled this spring, to find out whether they want to hold a special session to set up a committee on election integrity.

This week, ten Republican lawmakers sent a letter to Montana Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen, requesting that she ask legislators whether they support or oppose a special session on May 2.

The lawmakers want to propose a “Select Special Interim Joint House and Senate Committee of Election Security,” to investigate the state’s election procedures. In their letter, they pointed to “the continuing and widespread belief, among a significant majority of Montana voters, that sufficient irregularities in election security in Montana create serious doubt as to the integrity of elections in our State.”

The lawmakers said the committee should have subpoena powers and come with funding for legal staff and frequent meetings. They said a special session should be held in May because the Legislature needs “as much time as possible to determine the integrity of the election system” before the June 7 primary.

The lawmakers who signed the letter were Sen. Theresa Manzella and Reps. Paul Fielder, John Fuller, Steven Galloway, Jane Gillette, Fiona Nave, Bob Phalen, Jerry Schillinger, Derek Skees and Brad Tschida.

Jacobsen’s office said Friday that they are currently preparing the poll. They have five days after receiving the letter Thursday to mail the poll out to all 150 lawmakers – who in turn will have one month to respond. If a majority support holding a special session, it will go forward.

This is the second attempt this year to have a special session. Last month, Gov. Greg Gianforte offered to call a special session to redraw districts for the Montana Public Service Commission, but only if lawmakers promised not to expand it to include other issues. Some Republican legislators had wanted that session to also focus on setting up the election security committee.