The Missoula County Attorney’s and Sheriff’s departments say that after a thorough investigation, they have no reason to believe fraud took place in the May school elections. The announcement comes just a few weeks after a local accountant filed suit over the vote results.
“I have come to the conclusion that there is no basis to charge anyone with any criminal offense,” County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg said. According to Van Valkenburg, a technical glitch affected after-the-fact voting reports — like the one that led Patty Lovaas to believe the election had been rigged –making it appear that some votes were counted more than once. “They were never counted toward the election, and therefore this was simply a problem with how the software ran reports,” Van Valkenburg said.
… In this case, he says the sheriff’s department’s findings vindicate County Clerk and Recorder Vickie Zeier, who runs elections, along with the county commissioners. But Lovaas says she sees a clear conflict of interest at play. “He represents the defendants, and so there is not only a conflict of interest, but a lack of independence,” she said.
Lovaas says there are only two fair options left. “You can void the election, which is what I’ve requested of the commissioners, or you can recount all the ballots by hand.” She says she’ll go ahead with her independent lawsuit, and see what a judge has to say.