HELENA, Mont. – On Friday, a Yellowstone County judge appointed by Governor Steve Bullock issued two rulings that overhaul Montana’s long-standing elections system and undermine the integrity of November’s election.
The first ruling extends the cutoff date for mail-in ballots to nine days after the election, so long as the ballots were postmarked by November 3rd. This is the second time the Bullock appointed Judge has issued a decision that runs afoul of Montana law, which requires that all ballots be received by 8PM on election day. The previous decision was halted by the Montana Supreme Court earlier this year.
The second ruling declares the Ballot Interference Prevention Act unconstitutional. This law, which prevents widespread ballot harvesting, was passed through a voter-led initiative in 2018 with support from more than two-thirds of Montana voters.
Both of Harris’ rulings are a result of a lawsuit brought by the Montana Democratic Party as it continues its attempt to overcome their minority in legislature by engaging activist judges to rewrite Montana’s election laws in the hope it will benefit Governor Bullock. Chuck Schumer’s Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is also a plaintiff in the lawsuit.
Montana Republican Party Chairman Don “K” Kaltschmidt issued the following statement in response:
“The rulings by Governor Bullock’s appointee, Judge Harris, are an affront to the integrity of our elections and the will of Montanans who voted overwhelmingly to ban the suspect practice of ballot-harvesting. The Montana Democratic Party should be ashamed of its continued attempts to undermine our duly elected legislature and rewrite Montana’s election rules to their advantage. We hope a sound judiciary will uphold Montana’s long-standing election deadline and the integrity of our mail ballot system.”