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'Election Protection Committee' is concerned about Cascade County elections

'Election Protection Committee' concerned about Cascade County elections
Posted at 3:13 PM, Apr 13, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-13 17:13:42-04

A group of concerned citizens has created an "Election Protection Committee" to monitor upcoming elections and demand transparency from the Cascade County Clerk & Recorder's office.

Their concerns stem from Clerk & Recorder Sandra Merchant’s decision to change several upcoming elections from an all-mail format to a polling place election.

During a Wednesday news conference, the group released a list of issues they want Merchant to address, including lack of communication with civic leaders about the cost of a poll election, and how it would be funded.

Sandra Merchant (March 2023)
Sandra Merchant (March 2023)

They’re also concerned that Merchant is staffing the election office with individuals who signed a petition in 2022 that called for a ban on electronic voting equipment and mail-in ballots.

The committee is led by former County Commissioner Jane Weber and businessman Peter Fontana; he is the brother of former Clerk & Recorder Rina Fontana Moore, who lost to Merchant by 36 votes in the November 2022 election (link).

During the news conference at Montana ExpoPark, Fontana said, “We are comitted to fighting voter suppresion, and defending our democracy. We will not allow Sandra Merchant to disenfranchise a single Cascade County voter.”

Weber added, “Sandra Merchant, your time is up. You don’t understand the job that you have been elected to do. I think that it’s time for you to do the honorable thing - be a big girl, and resign.”

MTN News contacted Merchant’s office for comment, but we have not yet received a response.

Her office is scheduled to conduct a public test of the voting tabulation machines on April 25th.