VIDEO: City Council Approves All Mail-In Ballot Election for Mayor, Wards Despite Unexplained Discrepancies in 2020 Missoula Election
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Missoula County Elections were called into question earlier this year when a ballot review team found that 4,592 ballots from the 2020 General Election were missing required chain of custody documentation, making them illegal to count. According to a report filed by investigative journalist John R. Lott for RealClearInvestigations, when confronted with the discrepancies, Missoula County Elections Administrator Bradley Seaman “appeared extremely nervous and had no explanation.” Shortly after the findings revealing the ballot discrepancies were released, Seaman began attacking the ballot review team accusing them of “intent to mislead voters.”
Missoula conducted a mail-in ballot election in 2020 at the recommendation of former Governor Steve Bullock who used the COVID-19 pandemic response as justification. The election discrepancies found in Missoula County Elections during the review, which was overseen by County Elections workers and Seaman himself, have not yet been resolved. HD-97 Rep. Brad Tschida sent a letter to Montana Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen asking that her office investigate. Tschida has not yet received a response.
At City Council (still being held virtually) this past Monday, City Clerk Marty Rehbein provided a report to Missoula City Council that indicated that mail-in ballot elections were cheaper to run than in-person polling elections stating that, “City elections have been conducted by mail ballot since 2007. Voter turnout increased when the city switched to mail ballots and election costs decreased.” According to Rehbein’s report, the cost to run polling places for a ward would be about $24,000 and to conduct a mail-in ballot election for a ward would be $19,000. John Engen became mayor of Missoula in 2006 after working as a news editor at the Missoulian.
Stephan K. Dicomitis protested the resolution to conduct a mail-in ballot election in public comment sharing, “I am not in favor of mail in ballots. How do we know that these ballots are not compromised? I suggest going to the polling places to insure no hanky-panky is involved, and integrity is assured.”
Ward 6 Councilwoman Sandra Vasecka also implored other council members to not support the resolution for a mail-in ballot election. Vasecka noted the 4,592 ballots that are still unaccounted for from the 2020 General Election. “These revelations have not had any response nor any answer as to why they happened,” said Vasecka. “It would be foolish and, frankly, untruthful to say that there is no election security issues. It would be irresponsible and naive to be in favor of all mail-in voting for this election. I cannot support this. I will be voting no and I urge my colleagues to do the same.”
Other members of the city council quickly came to Missoula County Elections Department’s defense. Ward 5’s Stacie Anderson jumped in after Vasecka spoke stammering, “The voting fraud claims you’ve cited have been investigated numerous times and were found to not be credible. There has been numerous election claims brought by and fully investigated by members of the legislature and have been investigated [sic] and by the Missoula County Elections and have found to be that our elections were completely aboveboard following the laws as put out.”
The legislature has not completed any investigation into the discrepancies found in the Missoula County 2020 General Election.
Ward 4 Councilor Gwen Jones also defended Missoula County Elections saying, “I think our elections officer and elections office in Missoula does a great job. They follow all of the rules. They are incredibly conscientious and as a result they get accurate results and I for one hot second do not believe there are any issues there and I really do not like having a federal narrative that some people are promoting out there being applied in Missoula.” Jones referring to President Donald Trump mentioning the discrepancies found in Missoula County at a rally this past weekend.
Ward 1 Councilor Bryan von Lossberg echoed Jones’ defense of Missoula County Elections and decried people concerned about election integrity saying, “I find it repugnant that some other members in the state as well as across the country have cast doubt without any evidence on the system.” Lossberg closed saying, “They should be ashamed.”
Despite the protest and the still unexplained 4,592 ballots missing required chain of custody documentation, Missoula City Council voted to adopt the resolution and will conduct an all mail-in ballot election once again. Ward 4 Jessie Ramos, Ward 5 John Contos, and Ward 6 Sandra Vasecka were the dissenting votes.