Montana Politics Ryan Zinke Special Election

Top five reasons to quash a mail-in ballot, or, yet another reason to dislike Zinke

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State and county election officials are fine with freak snowstorms, wayward election ballots, power outages and other nuisances. What they’re not fine with is holding an unscheduled statewide election on a shoestring, which is exactly how much money was budgeted.

Few right-thinking individuals could have predicted that President Donald Trump would pick frosh U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke for Interior Secretary, thereby forcing a May 25 congressional election to fill that seat. Sure, he has a gun and orange vest, but he is as qualified to head the Interior Department as Trump is to head the nation. Notably, he leaves his congressional office owing the people of Montana $36,707 for drawing a salary while hiding from constituents between the time he was nominated and confirmed. Maybe he was at home…in California.

We’re happy to be shed of him, but regret this new threat to our nation’s public lands, wildlife, Native American sovereignty and any other issue he espoused prior to his appointment, but will now likely buckle under pressure to under pressure from his boss, i.e., the president’s son.

(Note to Ryan: The way things are going, you’ll be looking for a new job in four years, if not sooner, and you can stop pretending you live here.)

Montana election clerks have lobbied for a mail-in ballot for the election. It’s secure, it’s efficient and envelopes (shipping and handling!) cost maybe one-fifth the amount of money needed to staff judges at polling places. Everyone agrees a mail-in ballot is a smart way to save taxpayers an estimated $500,000 in these times of fiscal constraint.

Eh, almost everyone. In an incredulous, tone-deaf, overtly partisan move that rivals what’s going on in Washington D.C., a bill by Sen. Steve Fitzpatrick (R-Great Falls) for a one-time mail-in ballot for the May 25 election is stuck in the House Judiciary Committee. Key legislators, especially Rep. Jeff Essmenn (R-Billings) the state Republican chairman, are threatening to sit on it until it dies a horrible death. One jokester suggested they reconsider it at the next scheduled legislative session. Ha ha.

What possible reason could legislators have to kill a bill that is supported by every county election clerk in the state? Regrettably, I am not making this up:

#5:  Mail-in ballots are a gateway drug that lead to legalizing recreational marijuana.

#4:  Those thousands of pesky women voters who marched all over the Capitol lawn in Helena following President Trump’s inauguration are threatening to use those new Wonder Woman stamps.

#3:  Mail-in ballots support fraud, crime, pregnancy, welfare, entitlements, unions, strikes, public television, Meals on Wheels, cancer research, environmental regulations, public schools, banking regulation, immigrants, minimum wages, background checks for AK-47s and Sen. Ted Cruz, things all Republicans hate.

#2:  You don’t get an “I Voted” sticker.

#1:  And it would make elections more accessible to all voters, including the poor, college students and Democrats.

Some county clerks say they will have to ask their county commissioners for emergency funds to hold an election at regular polling places, stretching tight county budgets. Meanwhile, the House will hold a hearing on the mail-in vote measure on Thursday at 8 a.m. This is a bellwether moment for House Republicans. Save a cool half-million for Montana taxpayers, or piss away any pretense that you represent the people – your friends and neighbors – who sent you to Helena.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a seventeen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

5 Comments

  • Two more thoughts about mail in Ballots.
    1. From broadly liked and appreciated, Regina Plettenberg, Ravalli County Clerk & Recorder/ Election Administrator. Absentee, or mail voters tend to be better informed and much more motivated.
    2. From Representative Geraldine Custer: “I would rather be defeated in a high turnout election than win in a low turnout election.”

  • Breaking News: (at least for a very few news channels) Our new TV show: “Wakeup Montana”

    Bill O’Reilly: Media’s treatment of Maryland high school rape ‘beyond anything I have ever seen’
    Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly slammed the mainstream media on Wednesday’s “The O’Reilly Factor” for ignoring the case of two immigrant teens, at least one of whom is in the U.S. illegally, accused of raping a Maryland high school student.

    “ABC, NBC, CBS did not cover it on their nightly news broadcasts,” O’Reilly said in his “Talking Points Memo.” “CNN did not cover the Maryland story in primetime last night. Ditto MSNBC. That is beyond anything I have ever seen in my 40 years-plus of journalism.”

    PARENTS’ EMOTIONS RAW IN WAKE OF RAPE AT MARYLAND HIGH SCHOOL

    “We all know why,” O’Reilly said. “Illegal immigration is a political issue.” The host went on to accuse the media of “allowing the sanctuary [city] movement to pretty much run wild” by opposing President Donald Trump’s hardline immigration policies.

    O’Reilly warned that “many Americans have had enough of illegal immigration,” saying that “the federal government has lost control over the immigration process, and … many states and cities will not obey federal law, creating anarchy.”

    “[There] comes a time when citizens of any country have to demand justice, have to demand protection, demand the law be respected,” O’Reilly said. “We have not, have not, come to that time yet in America.”

    The “big three” networks of ABC, CBS, and NBC continued their shameful blackout into Wednesday night of the horrifying alleged rape of a teenage girl in a Washington D.C. suburb high school bathroom by two men, including one here in the U.S. illegally.

  • Simple most voters will use internet prior to filling out the election forms. While standing in line (really long ones at metra park) anger changes votes. You throw in a little conversation with your repub voter next to you and you have a vote change? Easy peasy? Republican taxing and spending in all its glory!

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