The Montana Republican Party Brings Voter Suppression to Montana

by jhwygirl

You can bet the Montana Republican Party is proud of it too.

I read it first this morning, about 6:30 a.m. over at Pogie’s Intelligent Discontent…and later found it on the Missoulian’s web page.

On Monday afternoon, state GOP officials delivered voter registration challenges to Missoula (3,422), Butte-Silverbow (714), Lewis & Clark, Glacier, Deerlodge, Hill, and Roosevelt counties.

So the Montana GOP is challenging 6,000 votes across the state – geared solely at Democratic-leaning and Native American voting areas. Jack Eaton, executive director of the Montana GOP is unapologetic:

The integrity of the voting process is something that has to be above reproach to have faith in the system. We aren’t trying to prevent anyone from voting. We want people to register properly.


“The integrity of the voting process”? “We aren’t trying to prevent anyone from voting”? I’m sorry – what in the hell does he think is going to happen 30 or so days before a presidential election, when county election offices are extremely busy just getting the basic election stuff prepared?

Vicki Zeier, Missoula County election official tells us:

I’m not very happy, obviously,” said Zeier, who “about freaked” when the request appeared in her office on Monday afternoon.

Why? Because under state law, Ms. Zeier – and all counties facing these challenges – have 5 days to notify challenged voters.

Mary McMahon, Butte-Silverbow County election official said her office is short staffed, and the request comes just as her three (three) employees are getting ready to mail out more than 4,000 absentee ballots while still preparing for the Nov. 4 general election.

We’re slammed. We’ll get them all out, but it is just very frustrating right now to get this kind of reaction from either party and have to deal with it.

Missoula County Attorney’s Office is rejecting part of the Montana GOP challenges, saying that 2,200 of the allegations live in the county – and under state law, they get to vote at their old precinct once providing they update their information.

The Montana GOP is taking Missoula County to court on that rejection.

Timing could not come at a worse time. A record number of people have registered to vote, and small understaffed county offices are busy processing the 1,000’s of registrations.

Executive director of the Montana Democratic Party Art Noonan, too, is fighting mad about the situation. According to Ian Maurquand, of Montana’s News Station, “Art Noonan says this week’s challenges of voter residency by his Republican counterpart Jacob Eaton represent a direct attempt to intimidate and suppress Democratic and Native American voters. He also told me that his party recently conducted a 56-county survey of election supervisors and concluded that there are no concerns about voter lists, the registration process or anything else regarding Montana elections.”

Marquand goes on:

Noonan told me the party is reviewing legal options and might try to halt the challenges of some 6,000 voters in seven counties. However, time is running out since county election officials have until Monday to mail notification letters to affected voters. Noonan also said Democrats might offer to help voters cope with the challenges. In Missoula County, voters who have been challenged must fill out a residency affidavit, get it notarized (which some associates have told me is the most challenging part of the process) and send it back to the county. Then, voters who have changed their residence must re-register in the precinct, county, or state to which they’ve moved.

The Montana GOP is desperate. They see their numbers slipping – whether it is the gubernatoral race or the state senate or house races. They’re losing serious ground in rural areas of the state – the Montana League of Rural Voters recently took the rare step of endorsing not one, but two Democratic candidates for the state senate – Lane Larson (SD-22) and Shirley Baumgartner (SD-18). The state GOP made themselves laughing stocks during the 2007 legislature, and now their fighting to maintain.

This ain’t the way to do it.

My guess? This will only pull more Democratic voters out to vote and to register….and when they attempt to take away votes from the young and the Native American voters that have never voted in a presidential election and are excited about participating in the process, they do themselves more harm than any good that ever had a chance of befalling them.

Karma baby, karma.

  1. the hypocritical republican party once again shows it’s true fascist roots as it attempts to prevent the serfs from voting against their rotted and crumbling conservative aristocracy.

    the end is near and they grow more and more desperate. if i were a republican i would hang my head in shame. this is an obvious barrier intentionally placed in the path of voters who only wish to excercise the right to have legitimate say in their is beyond obscene and the fact that they can stoop to this should further galvanize the vote against them.

  2. I’m glad to know that someone reads my site before the Missoulian. :)

  3. Jim Lang

    But, between same-day registration, and provisional balloting, won’t all these people be able to vote anyway? You don’t lose your right to vote because you moved, do you?

  4. goof houlihan

    “…it’s true fascist roots as it attempts to prevent the serfs from voting against their rotted and crumbling conservative aristocracy.”

    Joe Stalin couldn’t have said it better.

  5. Jim – all those votes have to be certified within 24 hours after the election – correct me if I’m wrong here, someone – so even if one votes provisional or same-day, the elections office is back there running like mice on caffeine (or worse), trying to get that certification done.

    If they pull this shit on or just after election day, those people up there in the courthouse have an impossible job to do.

    Even now, as both Missoula and Butte-Silverbow lay it out there – by challenging these registrations, they’re throwing one hell of a wrench into the system.

    Of course – that is the plan now, isn’t it?

    goof shows his true non-partisan side.

    Pogie? Only the worthy ones, my friend, only the worthy.

  6. Mayor of Mayhem

    This is no doubt a nation wide plan. Confuse, redirect, misinform, Then claim victory. Worked in Florida in 2000. Worked in Ohio in 2004. I don’t think it matters much. looks like Montana is going McCain anyway.
    Goof, I’m re-evaluating my thoughts on you.

  7. goof- i am sure that someone said it better back when hitler’s party was engaged in intimidation tactics to install der fuerher: someone like winston churchill and FDR.

    it got W his stolen victories in Florida and Ohio in 2000

    voters who get this in the mail will be incensed and i believe i speak for anyone sane that the republican party should be condemned for their cynical and represensible behavior on this.

  8. petetalbot

    Jim, good questions. One thing I know is that it’s hard to do same day registration if you’re already on the books as having registered. The Secretary of State has some info:

    But the site also says:

    “Voter Registration and Polling Place Information service coming October 6.” That’s not very helpful.

    Here’s some of the stuff that the site has:

    “Late registration. Register and receive a ballot at your county election office from Tuesday, October 7 through noon on Monday, November 3, and on Election Day until the close of polls .

    Apply for an absentee ballot. Download an absentee ballot and return to your county election office.”

    But back to jhwygirl’s post. I find it interesting how the two parties go about winning elections. The Democrats try to get more people to the polls: new voters, young voters, Native voters. The Republicans try to keep people away from the polls.

    The most laughable is the Republican’s so-called reason for challenging registered voters. “Voter fraud is something that’s always on the minds of a few insiders,” said GOP Executive Director Jacob Eaton. Yeah, that’s a real problem here in Montana. Show me an incident of voter fraud since the days of the Butte Copper Kings.

  9. Nick D

    I was on the list. I moved about a month ago, updated my registration, etc… Apparently the lag between updating records is how I ended up there. I normally think of myself as a pretty diplomatic guy, but I’d like to have a few too many drink tonight and run across Jake Eaton outside the bar.

  10. Ayn Rand

    lets see, nick would be the one with the pink panties on his head.

  11. Nick D

    All jokes aside–although that’s hard to do when addressing someone who’s handle is Ayn Rand–I don’t feel like there’s much worth fighting over, but voting rights is definitely in there. I’m dead serious when I say in the grand cosmic scheme of justice, anyone who says they’re an American patriot out one corner of their mouth, and then uses the other side to lie about disenfranchising people for the benefit of their party deserve an old school ass kickin’.

  12. Mayor of Mayhem

    Under the initial requirements set up by our founding fathers a large percentage of current voters would not qualify to vote. The primary reason for excluding people was that they didn’t have a stake in the success of public policy if they didn’t own property or businesses.

  13. reminds me of the era of G. Gordon Liddy and Ehrlichman and the other plumbers in Nixon’s cabinet. hanging’s way too good for slime like these republican operatives. i predict a landslide vote against their party. if i were a republican candidate i would distance myself by condemning this outrage. to compound this, eaton is quoted in the missoulian this morning as saying they will challenge more voters accross the state. time for a judge to issue an injunction anyone? before this threatens to taint montana’s results?

  14. dead silence from the party of the dead elephant on this issue. patriotic my ass. a party of hypocritial cowards is what i say.

  15. problembear, not true. The party of the be-trunked dinosaur has responded. They have said that it is the Governor’s fault that they have no respect for the Constitution, either of country or state. And that was the precise answer from the only Montana wingnut blogger with the cajones to mention this sad incident. If your Constitutional rights are violated, you should blame the Governor for talking.

    Makes perfect sense … doesn’t it?

  16. too late for their lame explanations anyway- the angry mob is headed for the polling booths this november and from what i’ve seen it ain’t exactly in the mood for polite discourse. it looks like curtains for them now.

  17. goof houlihan

    I expect all laws regarding campaigning, registration and voting to be enforced, in the interest of maintaining the credibility of elections.

    That includes laws against double registration, campaigning in a polling place, or offering inducements to vote. If the law provides for challenging registrations, I expect clerk and recorders and the secretary of state to be prepared to respond lawfully.

    And no, I don’t think any amount of whining from clerk and recorders or a “true progressive” invoking the words of Lenin and Stalin is going to change my mind.

    As for my non partisanship, jh, I’m certain I’ll vote for a couple of democrats this election, and I’ve waxed eloquent on behalf of one here. How many Republicans are you voting for/praising on your blog? Eh?

    I’m going to vote, legally, and with premeditation, not because I got a sandwich and extra credit for my college class on election day. And I’m very happy with my support of Bob Brown in the last gubernatorial campaign. That includes any comparison to the Rs who wanted the “more moderate” Pat Davidson in the primary and the Ds who got elected the man the Montana Pioneer called, “a caricature of a self indulgent, attention seeking politician”.

  18. fair enough goof. i just think that the majority of voters of all parties would agree that using clever tricks and allowing GOP operatives to run rampant “gaming the system” were not the original intentions of those voting laws.
    i think if abraham lincoln were to visit montana he would not be proud of his party.

    commie baiting only worked for mccarthy, goof. and not very well either.

  19. rumors that 60 minutes is looking into this are surfacing. preliminary phone calls to prominent players have been made.

  20. deb

    John Bohlinger has written a fairly strong opinion piece against the GOPer attempt to disenfanchise voters:

    Republicans crossed line with voter purge attempt

    …As the saying goes, “All’s fair in love, war and politics.” But the executive director of the Republican Party crossed the line when he attempted to remove 6,000 voters from the rolls in Montana. These voters are law-abiding citizens and are legally registered. Some are veterans. Others are active servicemen, serving in Iraq and Afghanistan or about to be deployed there.

    As a Republican, I was ashamed to hear of this. But as a Marine, I was outraged. Why would the Republican Party, which always claims to care greatly about our troops, do this?

    It appears that Republican operatives looked to gain an advantage by purging as many voters as possible from counties that lean Democrat. The director of the Republican Party issued a blanket challenge to validly registered voters based on false criteria, trying to persuade election clerks that a mere change of mailing address is grounds for automatic cancellation of voter registration.

    Not that his opinion will carry any water with today’s GOP: Bohlinger is one of those sensible moderates who is no longer welcome in the “party of Lincoln”.

    Oh, and yesterday I read where the GOP is trying to insist on a dress code for voting, i.e. no wearing of Obama T-shirts while voting. AFAIK, this is only happening in Ohio, but perhaps it could go nationwide before Nov. 4. Anything to keep we ‘riffraff’ from exercizing our Constitutional rights, I guess, but the GOPers claim to fear that voters could show up wearing….musical hats!

    Nude voting, anyone?

  21. Mayor of Mayhem

    Goof, I have supported Libertarians, Republicans and Greens, when I thought them to be the best candidates. However what is happening is systematic. It is not meant to assure integrity is the election process, but to crate mayhem and disinformation, then challenges which lead to lengthy court battles. True will of the people be damned, this is take no prisoners politics with a “win at all costs” mentality. The long term affect is disheartening to the electorate, and causes a feeling that voting is irrelavent. All this taking place in a state where republicans are winning. I hate to think what’s going on where they are losing.

  22. Arghh

    Stop with the gamesmanship. Just let the people vote. We need to hear from the candidates. We need to hear how they plan to repair the economy. First gas price, then mortages, now jobs and a bailout. I don’t know if the bailout was necessary or not. But, I know that small businesses were starting to get hurt because they couldn’t get any credit. If the bailout is going to help, I hope it happens fast because it is getting really bad for people.

    It seems like Congress doesn’t have any idea how much people are suffering. I found this site that is collecting stories about how the economy is affecting us. They plan to put them together so they can relay a message to Congress. I sent in my story. Check it out. . .

    I keep checking back because they are going to post the stories on the site. I really want to see what other people have to say. I hear stuff from my neighbors, but what about people in other parts of the country.

    The minutia involved with elections is disheartening. Let the candidates speak, then let’s vote.

  23. Nick D

    How ironic that the U.S. Chamber is trying to sneak onto the victim side of the whole economic crisis…

  24. Pogo Possum

    “Oh, and yesterday I read where the GOP is trying to insist on a dress code for voting, i.e. no wearing of Obama T-shirts while voting.”

    Deb…..I understand why you may not like the idea of preventing people from wearing t-shirts, buttons etc to show their support for their favorite candidates. You paid good money for this attire and you want to show your support. This, unfortunatly, is an issue many people don’t realize is prohibited by Montana state law.

    “(MCA) 13-35-211. Electioneering…… (2) A person may not buy, sell, give, wear, or display at or about the polls on an election day any badge, button, or other insignia which is designed or tends to aid or promote the success or defeat of any candidate or ballot issue to be voted upon at the election.”

    The law exists to prevent electioneering inside and immediatly outside polling places. A separate section deals with prohibiting campaign signs with in 100 feet of polling places.

  1. 1 There’s No Warrant Out for Jack Eaton? WTH? « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] – Jack Eaton committed fraud 2 years ago. Damned near exactly two years ago, actually. He fraudulently signed off on a document, swearing by affidavit that I had changed my […]

  2. 2 There’s No Warrant Out for Jake Eaton? WTH? « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] – Jake Eaton committed fraud 2 years ago. Damned near exactly two years ago, actually. He fraudulently signed off on a document, swearing by affidavit that I had changed my […]

  3. 3 Even more ICYMI campaign news – Intelligent Discontent

    […] and was executive director of the Montana Republican Party until he “stepped down” for voter suppression tactics in 2008. He also took the lead in torpedoing health care reform in Montana. The organization was […]

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