Shady Calling in Montana

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Nov 07, 2006 1:14 PM

I got this from someone on the ground in Montana. It's from Secretary of State Brad Johnson's office:

HELENA-From Missoula and elsewhere, citizens of Montana have contacted the Secretary of State's office regarding phone calls that try to make voting seem more difficult than it is.

"According to the people who've called us, the call goes like this,"
said Secretary of State Brad Johnson. "First the caller asks for whom the voter plans to vote. Then the caller tells the voter that she is on record requesting an absentee ballot. Because of that request, the voter can't just go to the polls and vote. She will be required to vote a provisional ballot at the polls, and that ballot will be open to challenge."

He continued, "There's just one problem: Our reports are that these calls do not go to people who have requested absentee ballots. They go to people who have not requested an absentee ballot at all. So it's not true that they'll have to vote a provisional ballot."

Johnson said the intimidating talk of provisional ballots and being open to challenge can have the effect of discouraging voters from going to the polls, especially since the calls seem to go to people who have no reason to worry about these things.

Johnson said, "I urge everyone who gets one of these calls to ignore it, and to report them to the authorities. If someone claims you have requested an absentee ballot, and you know you haven't, don't take their word for it. You can go to the polls, and you can vote. Don't let yourself be talked out of voting. It's our right, and our responsibility."

In a state that went 59-39 for Bush in '04, anyone want to make a wager who those calls are coming from and which votes they're meant to suppress?