Sep 3, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump campaign and RNC sue Montana over mail-in voting expansion

Montana governor Steve Bullock speaking in Iowa in 2019.
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock speaking in Iowa in 2019. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The Trump campaign and Republican National Committee sued the state of Montana on Wednesday in an attempt to limit mail-in voting in the state, just 61 days before the election.

Why it matters: The suit, which alleges that Gov. Steve Bullock's recent mail-in voting expansion would weaken the state's election system, isn't the first GOP effort to curb mail-in ballots. President Trump baselessly criticizes voting by mail, saying it's prone to widespread fraud.

  • The president's re-election campaign also sued New Jersey and Nevada last month over a law that will automatically send voters mail-in ballots, CNN reports.

Context: Bullock (D) issued a directive last month allowing counties to expand mail-in and early voting because of the coronavirus pandemic.

What they're saying: "The Governor's inconsistency, coupled with the Election Directive's timing amid a nationwide push by the Democratic Party for the same measures, clearly reveals that the Election Directive is less about protecting the health of Montanans and more about enhancing the Governor's electoral prospects, along with those of his political party," the lawsuit says.

  • "Yet another Democrat Governor — who conveniently is running for election — is using the coronavirus as a power grab to take control of Montana's elections in the name of 'health,'" RNC chair Ronna McDaniel said in a statement.
    • "This rushed and unconstitutional directive creates a patchwork election code with no uniform procedures across the state, automatically mails ballots to voters and invites fraud, manipulation and administrative chaos."
    • "Upending our elections process in the 11th hour is a recipe for disaster."

The other side: “This template lawsuit appears to be part of a pattern of lawsuits across the country by Republican Party operatives to limit access to voting during the pandemic,” Bullock said in a statement, per AP. “Voting by mail in Montana is safe, secure, and was requested by a bipartisan coalition of Montana election officials seeking to reduce the risk of COVID-19 and keep Montanans safe and healthy.”

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