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Ravalli County to ask for permission to do local election audits

Posted at 4:10 PM, Apr 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-22 18:26:54-04

HAMILTON - Driven by citizen concerns over election integrity, Ravalli County commissioners will ask the state for permission to conduct audits of local election results.

Like many conservative communities, some voters in the Bitterroot remain concerned about fraud in the wake of 2020's tumultuous election.

And Friday morning, both Republicans and Democrats came forward to tell commissioners of their concerns — but also their support for local election leadership and process.

Still, the public hearing was full of the kind of skepticism that's been seen across the country.

But the county has found it doesn't have the legal authority to re-open ballots to check precincts for local races.

"First is that concern about local elections not being part of the audit process. We've talked about that," County Commissioner Jeff Burrows explained to the audience. "The next big one was, after talking to Regina (Plettenberg), we could accommodate this. This local post-election audit randomly selected, so for really no cost to the taxpayer."

"I don't feel at the state level that everyone is in collusion," Elections Administrator Regina Plettenberg emphasized. "I don't wanna say that to the attorney general and the auditor and the OPI and our Secretary of State. They're all Republicans. But I just thought to give you guys, so that you all feel more secure in our election process."

"I think our results are accurate at the county level, that come through the machine. But I've heard Regina say it. and I agree with that. Trust, but verify," Burrows added in his opening remarks."

After two hours of hearing concerns, but also support for local authority, commissioners voted to formally ask the Secretary of State's Office to make a rural change granting counties the local election audit authority.