Democratic lawmakers and many in the mainstream media have repeatedly insisted that there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud in November’s general election.
A new report, however, raises serious questions about the handling of absentee ballots in Montana.
Scope of the countywide election audit
According to the results of a RealClearPolitics investigation, the speculation stems from the results of elections in a Democratic-leaning portion of the state.
While Fox News Channel reported that nearly 57% of the state’s vote went to former President Donald Trump, Missoula County data indicated that more than 60% of voters in that county backed Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
The county opted for a universal mail-in voting system, as many districts did in response to the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis.
In January, Republican state Rep. Brad Tschida put together a team of volunteers to review all the ballots submitted in Missoula. The results of that audit, which was supervised by attorney Quentin Rhoades, gave critics a new cause for concern.
Specifically, the report determined that 4,592 of the 72,491 mail-in ballots cast — more than 6% of the total — did not have envelopes.
“Some of the envelopes may have been double-counted”
Such ballots are prohibited under state law from being counted in the election results since the voter’s signature and registration information cannot be verified without an envelope. Furthermore, there is no way to determine whether the absentee ballots had been postmarked prior to the deadline.
Not only were the unverified votes reportedly included in the final tally, but investigators also say they spoke to county employees who indicated that “some of the envelopes may have been double-counted.”
Some of the ballots examined in the audit reportedly contained suspicious characteristics, according to RealClearPolitics.
The report found that dozens of the envelopes reviewed “bore strikingly similar, distinctive handwriting styles in the signatures,” leading to concerns that multiple ballots were completed by the same person or group of people.
Authorities in Montana are reportedly alarmed by the results of the audit. Among the possible next steps are a joint hearing involving the Montana Senate and House judiciary committees or new rules aimed at enforcing new election reforms.