Montana Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen announced Tuesday that representatives from three state offices have completed their canvass of the 2022 election and declared each candidate who received the most votes on Nov. 8 officially elected.
“Thank you to the canvass board for completing this important procedure outlined in Montana election law,” Jacobsen said in her announcement. “The state canvass is an essential step in the process of certifying Montana’s General Election results.”
The decision by the Board of State Canvassers, which is composed of representatives from the offices of Attorney General Austin Knudsen, Superintendent Elsie Arntzen and State Auditor Troy Downing, marks the final step in the 2022 electoral process.
In the weeks between Nov. 8 and Tuesday’s announcement, state and local election officials engaged in a series of post-election procedures designed to ensure the accuracy of this year’s results. Those steps included a random selection by the Board of State Canvassers of which precincts would be audited in 44 counties, followed by hand-count audits of those precincts to confirm that electronic tabulating machines functioned properly. Ten counties that don’t use tabulating machines were exempt from the audit, as were two counties — Cascade and Sanders — that faced possible recounts in individual races. County officials also conducted their own local canvasses prior to the Thanksgiving holiday and reported their results to Jacobsen’s office.
This week also generated another nugget of post-Election Day news: the results of a recount in the Cascade County Clerk and Recorder race. After a Nov. 14 count of provisional ballots, Democratic incumbent Rina Moore trailed Republican challenger Sandra Merchant by 30 votes. Merchant’s victory was confirmed Monday in a recount that put her 36 votes ahead.
The other potential recount in Montana involved a ballot measure in Sanders County proposing a 3% local tax on medical marijuana sales, which reported an election night differential of only two votes. That later expanded to 13 votes in the secretary of state’s unofficial results, with 3,250 voters opposing the measure and 3,237 supporting it. According to Sanders County Election Administrator McKenna Wallace, citizens had five days after the county’s Nov. 22 canvass to file a petition signed by at least 10 electors, but no such petition was received. As such, no recount took place, and the ballot measure failed.
A Helena district court judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging the Legislature’s censure of Democratic Missoula Rep. Zooey Zephyr during the final days of the 2023 legislative session.
Broadwater County Attorney Cory Swanson has announced his candidacy for a seat on the Montana Supreme Court, setting up a contest between Swanson and former federal magistrate court judge Jerry Lynch for the court’s chief justiceship.
The Lake County Commission sent a letter to Gov. Greg Gianforte informing him that the local sheriff’s office and criminal justice system would no longer handle felony law enforcement on the reservation. The agreement between the state and tribe is one-of-a-kind in Montana.