Montana

Snapshot: Montana has a poor score for ease of voting and a middling score for ballot security. There are some red flags about how elected officials responded to claims about the 2020 elections.

Ease of Voting

Few measures to expand access
2 out of 7 benchmarks

Ballot Security

Some measures to ensure accuracy and security
5 out of 8 benchmarks

What Politicians Say

Several responses that undermined the 2020 election
2 out of 4 benchmarks

The state added a slew of new restrictions to elections law over the last two years, notably ending the state’s longtime practice of allowing voters to register on Election Day.

Although the 2021 law moved the deadline to noon the day before the election, it would mean some voters would have to make two trips that could be a long drive in a state like Montana.

It also means voters who learn on Election Day that they were not registered as they thought they were or who were improperly removed from the rolls would have to cast a provisional ballot. Nationally, as many as 3 in 10 provisional ballots are not counted.

Around 1% to 2% of Montanans registered on Election Day since the state began the practice in 2006, and it was especially popular among the state’s bigger cities and areas with a high Native American population.

Supporters said the change would allow local elections administrators to focus on voting and counting ballots on Election Day.

The state Democratic Party and groups representing Native Americans and young voters sued, but in May of 2022 the state Supreme Court allowed the laws to go into effect while the lawsuits move forward.


Ease of Voting

Is the state making it easy for eligible voters to register and cast a ballot?
Met 0 out of 0 benchmarks
How Montana compares to other states
Montana
Other states
← Easier to vote
Harder →
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
0
Number of total benchmarks met

Another 2021 law tightened the state’s voter ID rules.

Previously, voters could use a voter registration card, utility bill, bank statement or other piece of official mail to prove their name and address when voting.

The new law set strict standards for photo ID, requiring either a driver’s license or other photo ID issued by the state or an Indian tribe, a US passport or a Montana concealed carry gun permit.

Student IDs are only accepted with a second piece of ID that shows the voter’s address.

Other laws limit the governor’s power to change election laws during an emergency such as the coronavirus pandemic, require partisan poll watchers at mail-ballot drop boxes and allow reduced hours at smaller polling places.


Ballot Security

Is the state following best practices to ensure ballot counting is accurate and timely?
Met 0 out of 0 benchmarks
How Montana compares to other states
Montana
Other states
← More secure
Less secure →
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
0
Number of total benchmarks met

Other recent laws require voter rolls be updated every year instead of every other year and bar paid workers from collecting mail-in ballots.


How Politicians Responded to the 2020 Election

What did the state do in the aftermath of Trump's defeat?
Met 0 out of 0 benchmarks
How Montana compares to other states
Montana
Other states
← Fewer efforts to undermine 2020 election
More →
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
0
Number of total benchmarks met

In his previous position as a member of the US House of Representatives, Gianforte supported a Texas lawsuit asking the Supreme Court to intervene in the election.

His successor in the House, Representative Matt Rosendale, objected to Biden electors from Arizona and Pennsylvania.

Montana’s then-attorney general, Tim Fox, also signed onto the Texas lawsuit.

MyPillow Inc Chief Executive Officer Mike Lindell, a prominent elections conspiracy theorist, met with staffers of current Attorney General Austin Knudsen in late 2021 to try to persuade the office to sign onto a new lawsuit seeking to reinstall Donald Trump as president.

US Senator Steve Daines signed a joint statement with US Senator Ted Cruz and others citing “unprecedented allegations” of voter fraud and initially planned to object to electors on Jan. 6, but changed his mind after the attacks on the Capitol.


Read the full methodology
Story by: Ryan Teague Beckwith and Bill Allison
Graphics by: Paul Murray, Allison McCartney and Mira Rojanasakul
With assistance by: Rachael Dottle, Marie Patino, Jenny Zhang, Gregory Korte, Romy Varghese, Vincent Del Giudice, Nathan Crooks, Margaret Newkirk, Shruti Date Singh, David Welch, Elise Young, Dina Bass, Brendan Walsh, Carey Goldberg and Maria Wood
Editors: Wendy Benjaminson, Wes Kosova, Alex Tribou and Yue Qiu
Photo editors: Eugene Reznik, Marisa Gertz and Maria Wood
Photo credits: Getty Images, Bloomberg and AP Photo