A mountainous, 2,600-square-mile region with a population of approximately 119,600 does not seem like your prototypical setting for machine politics. Yet a recent audit of mail-in ballots cast there found irregularities characteristic of larger urban centers — on a level that could have easily swung local elections in 2020, and statewide elections in cycles past. . .
Political leaders and prominent media outlets have dismissed concerns raised by critics that such measures invite voter fraud. But could the election in small-county Missoula call all that into question? . . .
The story at hand begins during the pandemic summer of 2020, when the then-governor, Democrat Steve Bullock, issued a directive permitting counties to conduct the general election fully by mail. In the run-up to the election, a court also struck down Montana’s law aimed at preventing ballot harvesting. . .
Seaman’s office complied with Tschida’s request for access to all of the county’s ballot envelopes, and on Jan. 4 a team of volunteers, overseen by Rhoades, conducted an audit with the assistance of the Missoula County Elections Office. The audit consisted of both a count and review of all ballot envelopes and comparing that to the number of officially recorded votes during the Nov. 3, 2020, general election.
Its conclusions were troubling: 4,592 out of the 72,491 mail-in ballots lacked envelopes— 6.33% of all votes. Without an officially printed envelope with registration information, a voter’s signature, and a postmark indicating whether it was cast on time, election officials cannot verify that a ballot is legitimate. It is against the law to count such votes. (Read more from “‘Unexplained Irregularities’ Found in Large Percentage of Ballots” HERE)