Donate
News. Debate. Community. Levers for a better democracy.
Check out our Election Dissection blog:
Our panel of experts will be analyzing voting controversies until the 2020 winners are clear.
MOST READ
John Elk/Getty Images

No one cast a ballot from the Little Bighorn National Monument — or any other Montana cemetery — in recent elections.

Exhaustive Montana inquiry found 493 dead voters. None of them voted.

The latest reminder that voting fraud is a mirage comes from Montana, which has a small population but is a big part of the Republican playbook for holding the Senate and propelling President Trump's re-election.

The GOP took alarmed notice recently when an audit of registration lists found almost 500 dead people still on the voter rolls. But, on closer inspection, investigators for the Republican-majority Legislature found no sign that any of them have voted from the grave — a practice the president falsely asserts is rampant and could undermine his shot at a second term.

The myth of party operatives using names and birthdates on headstones to prop up their Election Day vote totals is part of American lore, and may have been easier in decades before registration lists got digitized and federal law required they be kept up to date. But in recent years, while a tiny fraction of the deceased get overlooked during such cleanup efforts, evidence their identities have been claimed by live voters has been non-existent.

Sign up for The Fulcrum newsletter

Keep reading... Show less
U.S. District Court

A billboard at the heart of the lawsuit, which challenged a 1985 law designed to make political groups be truthful about who's behind them.

Judge throws out truth-in-naming law for Montana PACs

One of the nation's most unusual campaign finance regulations, Montana's law intended to assure truth in labeling when it comes to the names of campaign organizations, has been struck down by a federal judge.

The law is an unconstitutional infringement on political speech because it is poorly constructed and doesn't accomplish its goal of helping voters understand who is behind groups spending money on elections, Judge Dana Christiansen ruled last week.

In an era when federal regulation of money in politics has essentially come to a halt, campaign finance reform groups have increasingly focused on winning curbs at the state and local level — and now one of those looks to be swept away, as well.

Keep reading... Show less
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Five Green Party candidates were removed from the ballot in Montana after certification issues.

Montana's Greens sue for the rights of minor parties to be on the ballot

UPDATE, Aug. 19: The state Supreme Court and a federal judge issued separate rulings Wednesday that will keep Green candidates off the ballot.

The Green Party is suing to keep itself on the ballot in Montana this fall, the latest testing of the limits of efforts to tamp down the small but persistent power of such minor political parties.

A state judge last week ordered five Green challengers removed from general election ballots on the grounds their candidacies had not been properly certified. The longshot lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal court seeks to overturn the judge's decision, arguing it violates the voting rights of, and effectively disenfranchises, approximately 800 Montanans who cast Green Party ballots in the June 3 primary.

This dispute is another example of the barriers third-party candidates face because of the American political duopoly. Many in the world of democracy reform argue that a baseline way to make the system work better is opening elections wider to candidates who don't identify within the increasingly polarized Republicans and Democrats.

Sign up for The Fulcrum newsletter

Keep reading... Show less
Joshua Lott/Getty Images

Gov. Steve Bullock is on the ballot as a Senate candidate and says local officials asked him for the switch.

Montana will move toward a vote-by-mail November election

Gov. Steve Bullock is giving county election officials across Montana permission to conduct the general election entirely by mail, as they did for the June primary.

The governor, who will be on the November ballot as the Democratic candidate for the Senate, said Thursday he was issuing the order at the request of the county clerks and election administrators. During the all-mail primary, the state saw a surge in voter turnout.

California, Nevada, Vermont and Washington, D.C. have already opted to send each voter an absentee ballot this fall due to the coronavirus. Before the pandemic, five other states — Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington — already had plans to conduct an all-mail election.

Keep reading... Show less
© Issue One. All rights reserved.