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Montana Republicans Attack Their Own Bill Because It Makes Voting Too Easy

The GOP isn't even trying to hide their disdain for our democracy anymore.

It's no secret that when more people vote, Republicans lose. This is the reason the GOP works so hard to suppress voting rights under the guise of "protecting our elections from voter fraud." However, even though we all know this is true, right-wing lawmakers never openly admit it--until now. 

In December, President Donald Trump announced that he has chosen Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke to head the Interior Department in his administration. As a result, Zinke's congressional seat--the only one in the state-- will be left vacant and have to be filled with a special election in the Spring. There's a problem though: the counties in the state are having a hard time finding the money for a special election. Because of this budget issue, State Senator Steve Fitzpatrick introduced SB 305, a bipartisan bill that would allow counties to use mail-in ballots for the election.

It's a great idea right? The bill would not only save the state hundreds of thousands of dollars, it would also make voting incredibly easy. But that's a problem for State Republican Party Chairman Jeff Essman. 

On the eve of the presentation of SB 305, Essman issued a frantic "Emergency Chairman’s Report" urging his party to vote against the bill they brought in the first place. His reason? It makes voting too easy and Democrats will benefit from it. Essman's report states:

All mail ballots give the Democrats an inherent advantage in close elections due to their ability to organize large numbers of unpaid college students and members of public employee unions to gather ballots by going door to door. Here are the facts: Data indicates that a vote-by-mail law in Montana would favor Democrats for two primary reasons.

1. Early Mail Voting Favors Democrats

Data from Montana in the 2016 cycle showed Democrats dominated early voting. Democrat candidates for President, Congress and Governor consistently over-performed among voters who said they had already cast their ballots. 

2. Lower Propensity Voters Favor Democrat Candidates

Vote-by-mail is designed to increase participation rates of lower propensity voters. 

In response to Essman's report, some Republicans are now speaking out against the bill. In fact, Secretary of State Corey Stapleton went even further and invoked "reefer madness" to try to scare his fellow GOPers into voting against it. “If you look at the three states that have done it, you can see that populism and direct democracy at its best, all three states — Oregon, Washington and Colorado — they do all-mail-in ballots and they’re all marijuana-all-the-time states too,” Stapleton said. “Is that what you want? Because that’s what you’re going to get.”

Meanwhile, other member of the party are horrified by the scare tactics being used by their fellow Republicans. Lewis and Clark County Commissioner Susan Good-Giese, former state GOP chairwoman, called it a "sad chapter in the history of the Republican Party." And Pondera County Commissioner Janice Hoppes (R) said,"This statement further underscores the bad rap Republicans get about voter suppression.”

Indeed. With one short memo to his party, Essman managed to out the GOP's real reason for all of their efforts to combat the voter fraud boogeyman. The right gives zero f*cks about our democracy and its free and fair elections. The only thing they care about is winning elections by suppressing the inalienable rights of Americans to vote for their representatives. So, the next time you get into an argument with a conservative about voter fraud, whip this letter by Essman out and call them out on their bullshit. It's time to expose the right for what they are: un-American zealots who consistently put party before country and stomp all over their constituents in the process.