A federal judge in Montana rejected a lawsuit Wednesday brought by President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign and other Republican groups that sought to block a law that allowed counties to send out mail-in ballots to every registered voter claiming it would lead to fraud.
U.S. District Judge Dana Chirstensen rejected the claim that the law would lead to mass voter fraud.
“When pressed during the hearing in this matter, the plaintiffs were compelled to concede that they cannot point to a single instance of voter fraud in Montana in any election during the last 20 years,” Christensen wrote.
“Importantly, Montana’s use of mail ballots during the recent primary election did not give rise to a single report of voter fraud,” he added.
Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock applauded the ruling for protecting voters. (RELATED: Montana Supreme Court Upholds Nov. 3 Absentee Ballot Deadline, Blocking Lower Court)
“There is nothing more sacred in our democracy than the right to vote, and no duty of government more important than to keep its citizens safe,” Bullock said in a statement. “I’m pleased that today’s decision will enable hundreds of thousands of Montanans to vote safely – in person or by mail – this coming election. Montanans can rest assured that our local election administrators will preserve the security and integrity of the election process.”
There is nothing more sacred in our democracy than the right to vote, and no duty of government more important than to keep its citizens safe. I’m pleased this decision will enable hundreds of thousands of Montanans to vote safely – in person or by mail. https://t.co/YLYRcEJuMy
— Steve Bullock (@GovernorBullock) September 30, 2020
All 56 Montana counties conducted the June primary by mail, and 45 elected to do the same for the general election, according to the Associated Press (AP).
The decision comes less than a month after the lawsuit began. The president’s re-election campaign and other Republican groups sued over Bullock’s Aug. 6 executive order that expanded universal mail-in voting.
The order expands mail-in voting so that “no Montanan will have to choose between their vote or their health,” and allows counties, at their discretion, to expand mail-in voting. The suit argues the order creates a “patchwork election code that has varying deadlines and procedures across Montana’s 56 counties” and would lead to voter fraud.