Escalating rhetoric related to voter-fraud conspiracy theories is crossing the line into what election officials say are threats against their physical safety, with less than two weeks left before Montana’s primary election. Addressing the state Legislature’s oversight committee for election processes, Montana Commissioner of Political Practices Jeff Mangan said Wednesday he’s been working with other organizations to encourage local election administrators and law enforcement to develop plans “for the safety of their staff, polling locations and equipment.” “Election misinformation, disinformation, the stuff that’s happening across the state, is harming and putting at risk our election officials, our election judges, our election volunteers and poll-watchers in the coming elections,” he said, adding, “someone needs to stand up and say Montanans need to be proud and feel good about the election practices we have in place and can feel confident about their vote.” Mangan cited potential threats directed at election officials in Carbon and Cascade counties, and asked the State Administration and Veterans Affairs Interim Committee to consider legislation that would enhance protections for election officials and judges against safety threats.
Montana: How Lincoln County’s ‘Big Lie’ Upended an Election Department | Tristan Scott/Flathead Beacon
Lincoln County’s election officials in Montana resigned en masse after facing unfounded allegations of fraud and falsifying documents from the county commissioners. The respected officials had been commended for their work and were trusted by candidates and the community. The commissioners’ accusations and hostile environment created by extremist party politics led to the departures. The vacancies pose concerns about the county’s ability to run future elections and deter prospective employees from public service. The tensions reflect a broader trend of election officials stepping away due to baseless accusations and threats, perpetuated by conspiracy theories and disinformation about election security. Read Article