HELENA (AP) — Secretary of State Corey Stapleton’s allegations of voter fraud has widened a rift with elections officers across the state, some of whom want the state’s elections chief to dial back his rhetoric.

As they prepare to meet for their annual convention on Tuesday, elections officials are hoping to rebuild relations with Stapleton.

Tensions have been building for months and come amid turmoil within Stapleton’s administration because of the recent departures of key staff.

Last month, Stapleton asserted that more than 360 illegal ballots were cast, though not counted, during the May 25 special congressional election. That number is just minuscule fraction of the 383,000 cast in the election.

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Ravalli County Election Administrator Regina Plettenberg said it is important to improve the lines of communication with the secretary of state.

AP’s Bobby Caina Calvan