Secretary of State Corey Stapleton said Tuesday he’d oppose any effort to allow Montanans to change absentee ballot votes that are cast before Election Day. Most states, like Montana, do not allow early voters to change their minds. That became an issue last month when then-candidate Greg Gianforte assaulted a reporter a little over 24 hours before his election as Montana’s sole representative in the U.S. House. Reaction to the assault sparked questions by those who had already voted if they could change their ballots. By then 259,558 of the 383,301 who would cast a ballot had already voted, or nearly 68 percent. “I would be very much opposed to letting people change their vote,” Stapleton told a legislative interim committee Tuesday in response to a question about if he would support a change in the law. “I think it’s much better to wait until Election Day and (vote) once.”
An absentee ballot is considered voted when it is received by the county election office. It would take a bill by the state Legislature to change that.
“If this last election was any indication, sometimes the best voters are the most informed voters and sometimes the most informed voters vote on Election Day,” Stapleton said. Early votes are typically ones that vote party lines or less likely to change their minds based on any late news about candidates, political scientists said in the fallout after Gianforte’s assault.