Legislator Seeks Access to Altered Ballots from General Election
A Missoula legislator, House District 97 representative Brad Tschida, has asked a local attorney to intervene with the Missoula Elections Office over the report of a ballot (or ballots) that may have been altered or revised.
KGVO left a message for Elections Administrator Bradley Seaman when attorney Quentin Rhoades brought the matter to our attention.
Seaman reached out to KGVO a few minutes later and explained the request he received from a person who altered their ballot.
“What we want to do is to make sure that people are feeling really confident in this process,” said Seaman. “And so with this, whenever we have somebody who makes a mistake on their ballot, our first and foremost guidance is that they should request a replacement ballot. But when I did listen to Mr. Rhoades’ interview with you, they did state that the voter had gotten that ballot in September, which was a little bit concerning to me because our mail date for ballots for the general election was October 9.”
Seaman then explained that by allowing the voter to alter their ballot, he was following the orders of the Montana Secretary of State, Corey Stapleton.
“We're governed by Secretary of State Corey Stapleton’s administrative rule as well,” he said. “Under the administrative rule of 443-2402 it would kind of cover if a voter did cross out and make a clear word mark or statement to indicate the intended vote that we would count that vote in the way that that voter had intended. Because we want to do everything we can to make sure that every valid vote gets counted for this election.”
Seaman stated that his office was attempting to make sure the voter’s wishes were carried out.
“So this would be a really rare circumstance,” he said. “I'd want to know a little bit more about the specific information here. But for these areas, whenever there's a clear statement from a voter that helps us make sure that this is that voter that signed that envelope and that their intent is clear, then we're going to do everything we can to make sure that we get those votes so it's counted correctly, as they had intended.”
Rhoades’ letter to Seaman contained the following request.
“Mr. Tschida therefore requests that you retain each ballot that you count that has been altered in the way described in the Dwyer affidavit,” the letter states. “Mr. Tschida requests that he or his agent be allowed to inspect them to count them and to capture photographic images of them. Mr. Tschida also requests access to all signed ballot envelopes for Missoula County for inspection, counting and photographing. The concern here is that the number of sign that ballot envelopes needs to match the number of ballots counted to guarantee no fraudulent ballots are inserted into the process and counted as real votes. We ask that the information requested herein be supplied to us on November 4 2020, so they can be expected during regular business hours on November 4, 5, and 6, 2020.”
Tschida said Seaman is doing an extraordinary job to ensure the integrity of the election and notes that the intent of his request is that the number of envelopes matches the number of ballots cast in the election.