Hilariously, the beleaguered new secretary of state Corey Stapleton has embarked on a statewide tour which he is calling the “Things that Matter Tour.” As in, most of what he spends his day doing doesn’t matter, but some of it does and he will talk about those things.
The tour got off to a rough start on the tour’s first day when the Great Falls mayor showed up at one of the gatherings, and asked Stapleton why, if he is so concerned about “things that matter,” he is blocking an effort by the counties to run the special congressional election by mail and thus save money and time. This will cost Cascade county a lot of loot, and Stapleton’s real boss, the GOP Chair Jeff Essmann, wrote a few weeks ago that the only reason Republicans must oppose a mail ballot bill is that it might help democrats in the election. Stapleton had no response, except to say that a mail ballot “doesnt make sense.” But he did provide some misinformation, which is a Republican specialty. He tried to claim that a mail election will have “no election judges.” False. There will be judges at every location where ballots are received and counted. He also said we are “not a democracy, we are a republic.” Well, we are actually a democracy and a republic.
It did not help Stapleton that on the same day he was launching his tour, the Governor was holding a press conference sending (once again) a piece of legislation to the legislature to vote on, which if passed would allow counties to conduct the special election by mail, just as many other elections are conducted exclusively by mail in Montana like local and school elections, every year, without issue.
This blog has watched with great amusement as the mail ballot issue has poked and prodded Republicans in a way that they cannot possibly feel comfortable. There has never been a more naked use of government power to suppress a good election practice for a political purpose.
One bright spot from the “Things that Matter Tour,” however, was that Stapleton said he would consider looking into an abolishment of the liquor license quota, something long overdue for the state. He has no power to do anything about it, but he could help by being a voice.