Archive for the ‘Brad Johnson’ Category

by jhwygirl

I’m not saying anything more than go read it at Pogie’s.

by Pete Talbot

Dear President-elect Obama,

I’m sorry we couldn’t deliver our three electoral votes to you. You worked hard for them. You visited the state and talked western policy. You set up offices and hired staff and had the best ground game I’ve ever seen. John McCain never set foot in Montana.

You came close — only 12,136 votes separated you from McCain. And compared to the 20-point win that George W. Bush had here four years ago, what you did was miraculous.

I’m still scratching my head, though. In almost every other statewide category, Montana went blue: senator, governor and all four tier b’s (unseating the sole Republican incumbent with a new secretary of state). And two-out-of-three newly-elected PSC commissioners are Democrats.

Another confusing example is Gallatin County. I hoped for better numbers from there. It did, after all, almost go for Sen. Tester in 2006 (Burns won by less than 200 votes). But this year, Obama goes down by over 1400. Perhaps Barack should work on a flattop haircut for 2012. Even Gallatin County voted for you, by a 1609 vote margin.

I don’t believe race was a factor. I think most Montanans who voted for McCain did so because of issues like taxes or defense or the “experience” card or some ingrained conservative Christian belief.

And guns played a role. Even though you came to Montana and assured us you wouldn’t take away our guns, ugly rumors persisted. Next time through, make sure to get that ubiquitous firearm photo op.

We wish you well, Mr. President, and may you bring people together to help solve the numerous problems facing our country. Godspeed.

An unpleasant aside

After saying race wasn’t a factor, well, you still run into this: On my way to Bozeman on election day, I stopped by the Cardwell Store, there between Whitehall and Three Forks, for a cup of coffee and a Slim Jim. Two good-old-boys were at the counter and one said, “I better go vote.” To which the other said, “Yeah, I’d hate to see this election get nigger-rigged.”

I’m not even sure what he meant but I left my merchandise on the counter and walked out. Came up with some really choice things I should have said about five miles down the road.

Now I’m sure that everyone in Cardwell isn’t an ignorant racist pig but I won’t be stopping by again, ever, to find out.

It’s a sad anecdote, but there’s one good thing about it; the guy was old and will soon be dead.

I love Missoula

On a more upbeat note: Missoula delivers. One or two flies in the ointment: that HD-100 race where Willis Curdy is losing by a measly 33 votes to Republican incumbent Bill Nooney (provisional votes still being counted, final results Monday). But that’s democracy; you can choose the anti-education, anti-senior, anti-young person, anti-environment candidate if you want.

Same with SD-7, which has a little bit of Missoula County in it and where veteran lawmaker Paul Clark lost to anti-government zealot Greg Hinkle.

Otherwise it was a sweep: Gutsche over Mood for the PSC, the improbable county commissioner outcome, nine-out-of-ten state reps, and two state senators.

The Emergency Operations Center Bond going down wasn’t really a surprise. With property taxes in the mail and it being a slow economy and all, folks are tightening their belts. In better times, I think it would have passed. It also wasn’t one of the strongest campaigns I’ve seen run in this town.

Ravalli County blues

Is it too harsh to recommend a toll booth at the Ravalli/Missoula County line? Those Bitterrooters should pay extra to come and visit an eclectic town that values education and planning. Maybe we could funnel the toll revenue into preserving Ravalli County open space, while there’s still some left.

I know that there are progressives in Ravalli County but time-and-time again their issues and candidates get hammered.

Both West Fork Blues and Rebecca have excellent comments on the results in the Bitterroot.

Statewide conundrum

Despite Democratic wins in most of the big-ticket races, the Montana House is tied and the senate losses seats (R’s 27-D’s 23). Throw in a Democratic governor and I smell gridlock. But maybe not, lots of talk from candidates of all stripes wanting to “reach across the aisle.” We’ll see.

I, like Jay and others, have to wonder about this split ticket voting. How can our Democratic governor win by an almost two-to-one margin and still have the Montana Senate lose its Democratic majority? Did the Republican Party focus on legislative races because it knew most of the others were hopeless? Any insights?

We’re a two party country

Third parties didn’t fare well. Libertarian Don Eisenmenger received about 7 percent in the OPI race, which I believe was the party’s best showing. Presidential candidate Bob Barr got 0.3 percent. In the U.S. House race, perennial candidate Mike Fellows got 3 percent, and Stan Jones got 2 percent in the governor’s race.

For Constitution Party candidates, Ron Paul got slightly over 2 percent in the presidential race. That party’s best showing was in Missoula County with Kandi Matthew-Jenkins getting a little better than one-third of the votes against Cliff Larson in SD 50 (there was no Republican in that contest). And in the SOS race, Sieglinde Sharbono received around 3.5 percent.

Nadar’s Independent ticket garnered slightly less than 1 percent.

And finally

Who ever thought we’d have a president with a name like Barack Obama? It pales in comparison, though, to the candidate from HD-15 — my favorite name on the ballot — Frosty Boss Calf Ribs. I’ve met some of the Boss Calf Ribs clan up in the Browning area but don’t know Frosty, who was unopposed. Kind of makes our Anglo names like John Smith and Jane Doe seem rather lame. Congratulations, Frosty.

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?

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.

by Pete Talbot

That’s what some of the conservative bloggers say could happen with Missoula’s new mail-in ballots.

So I thought I’d check with Vickie Zeier, Missoula County’s Clerk and Recorder/Treasurer, to see what the county was doing to stop these nefarious ballot fraudsters.

First, the election judges down at the courthouse check the signature on the every ballot’s return envelope against the signature on the voter’s registration card. If there are any discrepancies, the ballot goes to a supervisor. If the supervisor still has concerns, the signatures are compared by a handwriting expert. If that expert can’t verify the signatures’ authenticity, the voter is called to find out what’s going on.

And the biggest fraud so far for those few ballots that the experts couldn’t verify? Usually a wife submitting a ballot for an out-of-town husband, or vice-versa. Those ballots are voided and the errant spouse must then go down to the elections office if they want to vote.

Other conservative concerns were the large number of ballots that were returned because the registered voter no longer lived at that address. I’m not sure I follow the logic here. You’d think that would be good news — that ballots weren’t being delivered or forwarded to folks that don’t live at that specific residence anymore.

And as Zeier points out, this is a university town, where 10-15,000 people move in any given year.

Finally, only twenty judges are needed to handle the new mail-in ballot system. Compare that to the 600 judges that are needed for the old system (in other words, polling places all over the city). Which do you think has a greater chance for error?

I don’t know what it is about the Republican’s penchant for making it more difficult for people to vote. Known as the Brad Johnson syndrome, things like same-day voter registration and mail-in ballots seem to trigger the knee-jerk response: “fraud!” I guess these folks just don’t like the people’s participation in elections. For some background on voter fraud accusations by the Republicans, go to these stories at Left in the West.

I’d like to link readers to one of the conservative blog sites, Scoop Montana, that is espousing the fraud mantra but it recently went to “invite only” status. Now this could be just a mistake or some administration problem (Lord knows, these things happen). Or it could be the conservative aversion to informed comment and debate (that certainly happens, too). So you can try linking and I’ll keep trying to access the site, and I’ll gladly post a correction if Scoop Montana becomes available to everyone again.

‘Scoop’ also said that the mail-in ballots probably wouldn’t increase turnout. As of today, about 20 percent of registered voters had mailed in ballots. The county elections department is hoping for a 30 percent turnout by the end of election day. That’s pitifully low but way better than the eight percent (or less) that usually vote in these types of elections.

Last but not least, a PSA. There are five drop-off sites for your ballots around town that will be open from 7 a.m.-8 p.m. on Tuesday. They are: Cold Springs School, Paxson School, Russell School, Rattlesnake School and Hellgate Elementary School. You have to take your ballot there, they won’t have ballots for you.

You can also drop off your ballot at the elections department at the county courthouse, and if you’re registered to vote but can’t find your ballot, you can pick one up there. You can also register to vote, and vote! The elections department is in the courthouse annex (best accessed via Pine St.) and is also open from 7 a.m.-8 p.m. DON’T FORGET YOUR ID IF YOU’RE PICKING UP A BALLOT OR REGISTERING.

UPDATE: Scoop Montana is back. Here’s the explanation for the “invite only” status at the site yesterday:

“The Scoop apologies for taking what I will only explain as an unexpected hiatus.  For the last 24 hours, I converted the site to allow registered visitor only.  Welcome back. No registration needed.”

Then, in the comment section, he wrote this:

“I’ve taken the day off to think about the ethics of blogging. No joke. Some day I’ll write more about it…”

I’m looking forward to that day, seriously. We all need a little introspection from time-to-time.

But here’s the main post (from Scoop Montana) that I used to springboard into my piece above.

by Jay Stevens

Montana Senate Democrats preserve same-day voter registration!

Thanks to Forward Montana for putting the email in my inbox announcing the death of HB 281, and who’s exactly right in claiming that this bill was an attack on the voting rights of young people, who are increasingly drifting away from the GOP.

“I think it’s important that we give everyone the opportunity to vote,” said Sen. Lynda Moss, D-Billings. “I just don’t support this bill.”

Democrats said that election officials should have approached the Legislature with a plan to fix same-day voting, such as more people to handle the long lines or other solutions.

D*mn straight, Senator Moss!

Republican Brad Johnson’s desire to shut down same-day voter registration is well-documented on this site. That voting precincts and county courthouses were overwhelmed by same-day registrants shows the success of the law, and the failure of the Secretary of State’s office to anticipate and properly prepare for the onslaught.

Furthermore, the allegations of possible voter fraud used by the right to trash same-day registration (and other such legislation) is pretty much an excuse used to disenfranchise voters (pdf) unfriendly to the Republican party – like the young.

Personally, I’d like to believe that I’d support this bill even if the reverse were true. I think that the more voters that participate, the better off we’ll be. It’s not just about voting, it’s about having a stake and an interest in government. The more people are involved, the better.

Congratulations are in order for the Montana Senate. Nicely done.

by Jay Stevens 

Can you believe this?

The man who’s ultimately responsible for all of our Election-Day problems – secretary of state Brad Johnson – has come out against same-day registration:

The secretary of state’s office is supporting a measure to do away with same-day voter registration in Montana, arguing it could help prevent a repeat of problems that occurred during the state’s 2006 election.

Republican Secretary of State Brad Johnson is in favor of a bill that would require voters to register before Election Day, his chief of staff, Mark Simonich, said Thursday.

Simonich said Election Day 2006, the first year in which same-day registration was allowed in the state, was “somewhat chaotic” because county election officials were required to simultaneously register voters and run elections.

Interesting. Especially because much of the chaos can be lain directly at Johnson’s feet. It was his office, after all, that failed to provide clear voting guides for Montanans. It was his office, after all, that failed to provide easy access to registration rules. It was his office that failed to help voting precincts prepare for the possible crush on election day, on a day when a nationally prominent and historically important Senate race was to be decided.

Instead, Brad Johnson was plastering Montana roadways with this:

That’s right, Johnson was erecting billboards across the state featuring his face and an American flag — ostensibly there to provide voters with election information. Of course, only an idiot would deny that they were campaign posters. For what, Brad? Governorship in 2008?

Perhaps Brad’s office would be best served by eliminating elections altogether. That would make his job easier, wouldn’t it?

In any case, it’s definitely odd that Johnson uses as evidence the chaos he’s in no small part responsible for to do away with a popular voting law. If you were the suspicious type, you might think he tried to sabotage same-day registration…

(In a side note, the most repulsive comment in the article comes courtesy of Rick Jore:

Jore said those who wait to register until the last minute also may not be well-informed on the issues.

Of course, after that comment – if we follow Jore’s logic – we should probably disenfranchise the voters of HD 12.

Or, to paraphrase David Crisp, who could have been talking to Rick Jore:

But if standards for competence and productivity were imposed, wouldn’t you miss voting?


by Jay Stevens 

It’s nice to see some bipartisanship on initiative reform. Yesterday state attorney general Mike McGrath (D) and secretary of state Brad Johnson (R) called for changes in the initiative law that would limit signature gathering to state residents, and forbids paying signature gatherers by the signature. (The sponsors of the bill are Sen. Carol Williams [D-Missoula] and Rep. Alan Olson [R-Roundup].)

We know why these proposals were made, don’t we? Pervasive fraud in the signature gathering for Howie Rich’s anti-government initiatives.

Guess who’s against the reform?

[Trevis Butcher] questioned requiring state residency for signature gatherers and prohibiting per-signature payments. Residency is established easily and the payment rule could be circumvented by paying more to people who collect many signatures than to those collecting relatively few, said Butcher, son of legislator Ed Butcher, R-Winifred.

It’s sort of ironic that T. Butcher is complaining that the new rules could still be exploited, isn’t it? I mean, he’s living proof of why the current rules…well…suck:

Eric Feaver, the president of the MEA-MFT union, which helped lead the campaign against the proposed limit on increases in most state spending, welcomed the legislation. The ballot-measure process needs an overhaul to help control “fraud and deceit,” Feaver said.Payment per signature becomes an incentive to collect signatures that may not be valid, Feaver said. Signature gathering by nonresidents is a problem because “when they leave, if you have questions as to how they collected signatures, you can’t find them,” he said.

Basically, the old rules allowed one person to organize a ballot initiative drive quickly and quietly. All you have to do is dump a lot of money into the project, truck in a bunch of professional signature gatherers and get to work.

The new rules would help ensure that a Montana ballot initiative involves Montanans. After all, changing the state’s constitution should be difficult.

I’ve heard rumors that Sideshow Scott and his assorted geeks, bearded ladies, and fire-eaters would likely obstruct initiative reform. Hopefully Johnson and Olson’s participation in the reform signals a willingness by Republicans to do the right thing.

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