Missoula Elections Coordinator on Secretary of State Letter
Montana Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen sent an official letter late last week that details steps her office would take to help restore public trust in Montana elections.
The letter was in response to an article by John Lott of the Crime Research Center critical of the November 2020 election.
On Friday, KGVO spoke to Missoula County Elections Administrator Bradley Seaman, who specifically asked for a meeting with Secretary Jacobsen to discuss how to restore trust in local elections.
“I was really excited to see that (letter) come out,” said Seaman. “We're still hoping for some direct communication and possibly a meeting, but to see that letter, it was nice to have noticed the hard work of election officials across the state. As we've stated from the get go, we're following all of their policies and procedures, and we always want to work to help make things better, just like the Secretary of State said in that letter.”
Seaman said he was gratified to see Secretary Jacobsen’s first bullet point in her letter directly referenced Missoula’s efforts at election integrity.
“We were incredibly excited to be pioneers on election integrity,” he said. “The very first bullet point (in the letter) is the policy that we piloted during the last election of recording and live streaming our counting center. And so we're excited to see that that was the first thing they thought could be helpful across the state in elections. It's all about the details. So you would want to see exactly what each of those bullet points look like, but wouldn't want that to be an unfunded mandate to the counties. I do think that that really helps people feel confident in our processes here.”
Seaman revealed that his office in Missoula County keeps careful records for each election.
“We store everything for records retention, which is the set policy by the Secretary of State and by law from the federal election,” he said. “We store all of that material for two years. So should there be a legal challenge to the election, all of that documentation is stored and available for a legal challenge.”
Seaman reiterated the point that even though there has been an article alleging election fraud, that no actual charges have been filed.
“But we haven't had a legal challenge on this election,” he said. “We have had a few opinion articles circulated out, but if there were to be a legal challenge, everything in that election is sealed and stored in our records retention. We have a warehouse where we keep that for two years by law, and then we go through a process to file and destroy that information after that two year period has lapsed.”
Seaman said he is hopeful for a sit down meeting with Secretary of State Jacobsen in the near future.
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