Archive for October 8th, 2008

by jhwygirl

For those of you who might of missed it, the Montana Democratic Party and two individuals have filed suit in Federal Court seeking to restrain the GOP challenges to voters in Montana. While the Montana GOP has feebly withdrawn its challenges – Eaton wrote that the party launched the challenges in “good faith,” but media reports have since suggested the challenges were an effort to suppress voter turnout. – the lawsuit continues on.

Molloy issued his opinion yesterday (on the temporary restraining order), and boy, it’s worth a read. Plenty of it is great stuff – really. The first two pages take cynicism to a whole new level. Print it out – and make sure to leave a copy on your favorite Republican’s doorstop.

He really aims a good bit of his ire at Secretary of State Brad Johnson:

Also explained below, the Secretary of State’s “Challenge Resolution,” a review of statutes and administrative rules designed to help counties evaluate challenges like those at issue here, appears to create the potential for serious violations of state and federal law when a challenged elector offers to vote. See Pl. Ex. J. While, at this time, I find Plaintiffs’ arguments unpersuasive that the actions of the Montana Republican Party officials and the Secretary of State violate federal law and warrant immediate injunctive relief, the mischief Eaton has injected into Montana’s electoral process may have brought to light significant violations of state and federal law, and the consequences of these violations should not rest on the shoulders of citizens seeking to vote.

He goes on…

On the question of the State’s involvement, the pertinent document before the Court is the Secretary of State’s “Challenge Resolution.” Pl. Ex. J. To Mot. The Secretary’s Resolution is a review of statutes and administrative rules. Its stated purpose is “to review the statutes and rules that may help [county election officials] to resolve any challenge to a voter’s registration.”…These last two sentences of the guide present a critical problem.While Mont. Code Ann. § 13-1-112(8) states that a change of residence “may be made only by the act of removal joined with intent to remain in another place,” the Secretary of State’s instructions to county officials could be construed to require a voter challenged on the basis of change-of-address information to rebut a presumption of changed residence with “proof of intent to remain at the registration residence[.]”…While the Secretary’s Resolution seems to echo this conclusion when it says that “a postal change of address form by itself is insufficient to cancel the registration,” the apparent certainty of this instruction is undermined by the next phrase, “especially of an elector who confirms his residence in the voting process.” A voter cannot be required to confirm his or her address under these circumstances. The elector must be allowed to vote by regular ballot, or there is a violation of the National Voter Registration Act.

And finally, the kicker:

The process the Secretary’s Resolution prescribes for evaluating the three “Categories of Challenged Electors” further confuses the State’s response to challenges like those Eaton filed against the 6,000 Montana voters. It is not clear, from the plain language of the Secretary of State’s instructions, whether an election administrator has discretion to deny an elector the opportunity to vote because of a challenge based on change-of-address information, or whether an election administrator must allow the challenged elector to vote. For example, for the “first category” of challenged electors – i.e., electors a challenger claims filled out hange-of-address forms for an in-county address change, but whose postal addresses allegedly do not match the residence addresses on file with the county – the Resolution states a county official reviewing the challenge “may . . . determine . . . that the challenge should be resolved in the elector’s favor.” The use of the word “may” indicates that the county official has discretion to accept or reject the challenge. Such an interpretation of the law is wrong. Anything other than an unqualified rejection of the challenge would violate federal law.

In other words, Secretary of State Brad Johnson doesn’t appear capable of running an election and may be – we won’t know until Molloy’s final ruling, but the early stuff sure is telling – violating federal law as he attempts to do so.

(That all was apparently missed by Missoulian State Bureau reporter Jennifer McKee. She speaks of Johnson having “effectively alleviated a crisis that would have required a restraining order.” Gee, I missed that part….)

October 14th, 9 a.m. I don’t think popcorn is appropriate, but it’ll undoubtedly be worth sitting through, if only to see Secretary of State Brad Johnson defend himself.

I wonder if the taxpayers will be picking up the tab on that? You know, like how they’re stuck picking up the tab on the extra county workers and county attorney time spent on the Republican GOP’s worthless challenges?

And kinda how we’ll be picking up the tab on this current U.S. District Court case?

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by jhwygirl

I’m a little late to that party, but better late than never, huh?

problembear has written some great stuff, and I’ve really enjoyed his ability to make personal stories out of issues that seem so large. His post regarding foreclosures in Missoula, for example, has been one that has stuck with me since I first read it.

He’s done plenty of other great stuff, and now he’s graciously accepted an offer to post here. I hope you will enjoy his perspective as much as I have.

Welcome aboard, problembear!

by problembear

bears love cinnamon rolls. it’s what we dream about. part of my job involves gathering commodities to distribute to the hungry. day old stuff and things otherwise not sellable. understandably i love my job because it involves gathering food and what bear does not like to do that? missoula has been very generous so far and people who seek help are able to find it. i hope it always stays that way but i am worried about the economy. i am not trained in journalism or in economics but i have access to daily visits to lots of businesses. one of those visits today really gave me a jolt. usually when i drive through costco’s parking lot to pick up food in the back warehouse at about 11:00am each day the parking lot is usually about 80% to 95% full. today the parking lot was about 40% full.

the clientele of costco during the day primarily seems to be either retired folks who look to be at least comfortable if not well off or small business owners stocking up things for their business. this is a very simple barometer of the economy, i know, but i am a very simple bear. it seems to me that if folks are cutting back their visits at costco, the rest of the economy must be hurting.

i once owned my own business and i know first-hand that owners are reluctant to share how they are doing with the public. but i was just wondering if anyone can share with us how your small business is doing these days? don’t give out any numbers that would make your CPA spit coffee, just a general idea about how things are going. something like business has dropped off Xpercent since the bailout.you can even do it anonomously like i do. like i say, part of my job is to help feed hungry people and we have noticed that client levels have risen over 25% in the past month. I am a little worried that client levels could easily double or triple if the economy gets much worse.

by Rebecca Schmitz

It looks like we’ve misjudged Jake Eaton. Poor baby.

The Montana Republican Party on Tuesday night announced it was abandoning its contested challenge of the legitimacy of thousands of Montana voter registrations. Eaton wrote that the party launched the challenges in “good faith,” but media reports have since suggested the challenges were an effort to suppress voter turnout.

No, Jake, it’s not the media’s fault your “good faith challenges” were misconstrued. The fault lies with you, and your heavy-handed attempt at voter suppression. You, and your party, owe everyone in Montana an apology today.

by jhwygirl

A hat tip to Hummingbirdminds on this one….

The National Campaign for Fair Elections has sponsored a website, Election Protection, geared towards providing information on protecting your right to vote. If you have been a victim of the Montana Republican Party’s voter suppression and caging attempt, think about heading to this website to share your story.

Another site, geared towards empowering students and their right to vote is SAVE. They, too, have a website with which to enter your story of voting problems. They also have a hotline number – 1-866-558-4165.

The hotline number will allow you to record your story where it will be upload online for people, including media, to hear.

Look – it is important to tell this story. Until today, this was some abhorrent thing that happened in Florida or Ohio. Now it is happening – today, right now – in Montana. Keep in mind, the Montana GOP is promising more challenges. They are proud and unapologetic. Do not let them keep this story as something that doesn’t matter. As something that makes people like me out to be fraudulent voters.

What the Montana Republican Party is doing is criminal. Make no mistake. It should not go unnoticed…and shame on any media outlet that overlooks that fact.

Addendum: Don’t miss Bob Gentry’s post at Left in the West, which analyzes the complaint filed is U.S. Federal Court by the Montana Democratic Party and others, seeking injunctive relief from the Montana Republican Party’s voter challenges. There is also a copy of the complaint.

In it, you will see how Secretary of State (and candidate for the same) Brad Johnson (a Republican, of course) is complicit in the whole sordid mess.

Vote accordingly, folks.




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