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PNS Daily Newscast - October 19, 2920 


Trailing Biden in Nevada, Trump holds a jam-packed Carson City rally. And with COVID a major election issue, hospitals help patients register to vote.


2020Talks - October 19, 2020 


Litigation is ongoing on ballot receipt deadlines, witness signatures and drop boxes. And early voting starts in a dozen states this week.

MT’s Vote-by-Mail Option Up in Air After GOP Challenge

While many Montanans hope to vote by mail in the November election, a pending lawsuit could take away that choice. (Adobe Stock)
While many Montanans hope to vote by mail in the November election, a pending lawsuit could take away that choice. (Adobe Stock)
September 25, 2020

MISSOULA, Mont. - The future of Montana's vote-by-mail option for the November election could be decided any day now, after a legal challenge wrapped up this week in federal court.

President Donald Trump and other Republican groups sued the state over Gov. Steve Bullock's decision to let counties use mail-in ballots to help keep voters safe during the pandemic. The GOP claims mail-in voting is subject to fraud.

But Nancy Leifer, president of the Montana League of Women Voters, refuted that idea, and said lawsuits like this cause confusion and could influence some folks not to vote.

"This kind of thing throws suspicion into people's minds about, 'Well, oh gosh, is it really safe or isn't it?'" said Leifer. "And of course, the thing about Montana is that Montana has a very, very safe voting system. And there's absolutely no reason to be questioning it."

Forty-five of the state's 56 counties have opted to offer a mail-in ballot.

US District Judge Dana Christensen promises to make a speedy decision in the case, before the October 9 deadline to send out all the mail-in ballots.

Leifer pointed out that it's important to follow this case because if the GOP challenge is successful, then no one will receive a mail-in ballot, which many are expecting.

She said it would also force people to vote in-person, and a final decision might not come in time to request an absentee ballot.

"If you're for some reason unable to leave your house," said Leifer, "and certainly there are people who are under quarantine from COVID who can't leave their house - that essentially disenfranchises them, because they don't have time for the process to happen, for them to get a ballot and get it back in again."

A 2017 state report found that allegations of mail-in voter fraud during a Montana special election that year were inflated and represented only a small portion of the votes cast.

Support for this reporting is provided by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Diane Bernard, Public News Service - MT