Fight to protect voting rights

2013-02-05T08:30:00Z Fight to protect voting rightsGuest column by LINDA MCCULLOCH missoulian.com
February 05, 2013 8:30 am  • 

With the 63rd legislative session in full swing, it is important to remind your local legislators that you enjoy your right to vote – and that you elected them to office under Montana’s current election laws.

Since becoming your secretary of state in 2009, I have fought to protect your right to register and to vote through Election Day without having to jump over unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles. Bills to eliminate Election Day voter registration, restrict the identification requirements for voting and generally make it harder for Montanans to cast a ballot go against your fundamental right to help shape a government by and for the people.

Supporters of careless election bills argue that administrative workloads and long lines at the polls are justifiable reasons to deny eligible Montanans their right to vote. I say Montana elections are for the voters. If folks are willing to go down to the election office and wait in line to register to vote on Election Day, then the government shouldn’t deny them that right.

Voters across the state use Election Day registration. Since late registration was implemented in 2006, 28,329 Montanans have used it to register to vote on Election Day. These are responsible and hardworking Montanans – grandparents, mothers, fathers and young adults – who either were unable to register to vote early or who thought they already were registered to vote when they showed up at the polls. Rolling back the registration deadline would make it impossible for these eligible Montanans to vote on Election Day.

Facts are a hard thing to ignore, yet we continue to face those who use unfounded and vague allegations of voter fraud as a defense for attempting to suppress voters. The Post-Election Audit Act proves that Montana’s elections are accurate. It affirms each federal election cycle that the ballot count completed by the vote-tabulating equipment matches that of the post-election recount in which ballots are recounted by hand. A hand count of ballots that matches a machine count is hard to argue with, and it provides overwhelming proof that counties are doing their job accurately.

Elections are hard work and sometimes there are longer wait times on Election Day, but we don’t shorten the lines by denying Montanans their right to vote. The solution is to give counties the resources they need to more effectively manage the multitude of duties they face both before and on Election Day.

I am optimistic that great work can be accomplished this legislative session as long as Montanans stay involved in the process. Contact your legislators and remind them why you elected them to serve. Call on their good judgment and ask that they join the fight in protecting current election laws, as they ensure your right to continue to register and vote in elections that are accessible, secure and accurate.

Linda McCulloch is Montana’s secretary of state and chief elections officer. She is currently serving her second term in office.

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(14) Comments

  1. dhc
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    dhc - February 12, 2013 4:52 pm
    Claudius, help me out here, you claim that Gary made a claim of voter fraud, but I can't find it.
  2. claudius
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    claudius - February 09, 2013 1:12 pm
    @Gary - First you claim voter fraud, then you claim you didn't make that claim. Now you claim that you did make that claim.

    Talk to your wife again. You really need that aluminum foil. The voices seem to be getting louder.
  3. GaryTinkSanders
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    GaryTinkSanders - February 08, 2013 3:06 pm
    @claudius, You are funny, I never acknowledged anything besides my wife won't let me use the aluminum foil for anything but cooking. Since you think my views have changed due to the aluminum foil then you are admitting that you are a tinfoiler and that is alright.
  4. claudius
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    claudius - February 07, 2013 11:27 pm
    @Gary - So now you're acknowledging that there is no voter fraud? Good for you! Such a shift to sensibility may well be the result of all that aluminum foil you found. I presume you've lined your hat with it? Or have you gone all in and covered your windows, too?
  5. GaryTinkSanders
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    GaryTinkSanders - February 07, 2013 5:22 pm
    @claudius - where did I mention voter fraud? Where do you get the tinfoil? I can only find aluminum foil.
  6. claudius
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    claudius - February 06, 2013 10:34 pm
    @Gary - Name even ONE instance of voter fraud in last year's Montana election. And, BTW, making vague, unsubstantiated allegations about "problems" with some part of the process just calls for you to provide something other than your paranoid conviction that if the voters didn't elect Brad Johnson, then somehow the election had to be RIGGED!

    That's just tinfoil hat stuff.
  7. GaryTinkSanders
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    GaryTinkSanders - February 06, 2013 6:57 pm
    @claudius - how about sifting out the paranoid delusions of the far left extremists and "preventing" them from corrupting the voting process too. Not wanting to seem snarky but people have a propensity to vote for name recognition. Voting should be fair for all parties that choose to run for office, procedures must be adhered too, when a consistent problem is discovered it should be dealt with not swept under the carpet.
  8. claudius
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    claudius - February 06, 2013 1:07 pm
    @Gary - Sifting out the paranoid delusions of far-right extremists and preventing them from corrupting the voting process is very much part of the responsibilities of the Sec of State. Looks to me like Ms McCulloch is doing an excellent job.

    The voters seem to think so, also, since they re-elected her by a strong margin.

    And, since Gov Bullock spent a lot of his efforts as AG fighting against similar efforts to distort and compromise the election process, I suspect the looming power of the veto awaits the fruits of partisan legislative game-playing. He may yet find a use for those "VETO" branding irons.
  9. GaryTinkSanders
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    GaryTinkSanders - February 05, 2013 10:03 pm
    Linda, Linda, Linda is your letter even ethical, it is ironic how you talk about "FAIRNESS" yet you refuse to address concerns presented to you, You are also very well aware of the issues with the 650 machines but have refused to deal with them, you would be better served tending to business rather than writing this furtive guest column.
  10. The_Boneshackler
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    The_Boneshackler - February 05, 2013 6:40 pm
    The right-wing likes to conduct 'voter purges' that remove eligible voters from the rolls in progressive districts. When affected citizens show up to vote, they are denied. They might be able to cast a 'provisional ballot', but half of those are never counted. There is a reason that same day registration should be an option. Why does the right-wing always want to make it difficult for the working class producers to vote?

    Architect of felon voter purge behind Florida’s new limits
    - http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/news/state-regional-govt-politics/architect-of-felon-voter-purge-behind-floridas-new/nSp9t/
  11. High Altitude
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    High Altitude - February 05, 2013 1:34 pm
    Anybody that places such little thought into their vote by procrastinating and waiting to register on election day should not be voting. It’s a two step process: 1) Register, so you can vote, 2) Vote. Unless you move a lot, you only need to register once at your current address. The Government requires registration so we (the people) can have confidence in who is voting and they are not casting multiple votes. I want confidence the winner is truly the winner! This notion that someone might be disenfranchised because they were not allowed to register on election day is stupid. What about my vote being nullified because someone committed voter fraud?
  12. BobbyLee
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    BobbyLee - February 05, 2013 12:59 pm
    According to McCulloch, people who thought they already were registered to vote when they showed up at the polls, but weren't, are responsible.

    To most sane-minded people that would be the opposite of responsible. But not to the Montana Secretary of State. That's a little worrying coming from someone with so much clout, and with so much opportunity to do so much wrong.
  13. claudius
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    claudius - February 05, 2013 12:28 pm
    @Roger - Name even ONE instance of verified voter fraud in Montana's elections last year.

    Not only do the efforts to restrict voter access have nothing to do with preventing non-existent fraud, those efforts to block voters are openly discussed in the policy circles of the far right, as a way to cheat the system.

    Not only are they openly discussed, the people trying to change the rules for partisan gain openly brag about their intentions.

    Brad Johnson supported those efforts when he was Sec of State. He lost his bid for re-election. He campaigned on those efforts last year. He lost that election, too.

    I think there's a pattern there.
  14. Roger
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    Roger - February 05, 2013 11:04 am
    Facts are a hard thing to ignore, but McCulloch is ignoring facts when she suggests that voter fraud is not a consideration in election day registration. A little internet research shows that voter fraud definitely occurs - hopefully not so much in Montana as in places like Chicago. Allowing voters to register on election day is a clear invitation to voter fraud, in my opinion. It's shameful that a Montana secretary of state and chief elections officer would promote voter fraud. Let me guess - she's a Democrat.
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