A federal judge in Montana on Wednesday rejected the Trump campaign’s attempt to restrict new rules increasing citizen’s access to mail-in voting, calling the campaign’s claims of widespread voter fraud “a fiction.”
In a 46-page order, Judge Dana L. Christensen of the U.S. District Court in Montana refused the campaign’s request for an injunction aimed at stopping Gov. Stephen Bullock’s (D) from allowing all eligible voters to cast mail-in ballots. Christensen, an appointee of President Barack Obama, found that plaintiffs’ stated reason for seeking the injunction – the “cognizable risk of ballot fraud” – had no basis in reality.
“In many respects, this case requires the Court to separate fact from fiction,” Christensen wrote. “Central to some of the Plaintiffs’ claims is the contention that the upcoming election, both nationally and in Montana, will fall prey to widespread voter fraud. The evidence suggests, however, that this allegation, specifically in Montana, is a fiction.”
Christensen emphasized that the plaintiffs had been given ample opportunity to support their claims with evidence, but were unable to, particularly in light of the state’s recent success in conducting its primary elections through mostly mail-in ballots.
“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,” the order stated.
Christensen also rejected plaintiffs’ claim that permitting increased access to voting by mail would be unconstitutional because widespread fraud would lead to vote dilution.
“The Plaintiffs maintain that because the Directive permits counties to conduct the November 3, 2020 general election by mail ballot, this election will be ripe with fraud and thus result in unconstitutional disenfranchisement of a both direct and dilutive nature. Yet, Plaintiffs have not introduced even an ounce of evidence supporting the assertion that Montana’s use of mail ballots will inundate the election with fraud,” the order stated. “Indeed, as indicated at the beginning of this Order, at the September 22, 2020 hearing on the merits, counsel for both the Member-Plaintiffs and Lead-Plaintiffs conceded they do not possess any evidence establishing prior incidents of voter fraud in Montana, which has an established and well used absentee voting system. The Court is thoroughly unconvinced that will change in counties electing into the Directive’s mail ballot option.”
Christensen added that records were “replete” with evidence showing that Montana’s use of mail-in ballots in elections presented “no significant risk of fraud.”
The Trump campaign was joined in the lawsuit by the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and the Montana Republican State Central Committee.
Read the full order below:
[image via YouTube screengrab]
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