Across the country Trump supporters falsely say the last election was stolen. They demand “reform”
which really means they are demanding changes that disenfranchise millions of voters and threaten to
make our election system less secure and easier to manipulate so they can “win” future elections. Many
of these people are true believers but the farther up the far-right food chain the promoters of election
fraud myths understand that the best way to assure that they remain in power is to undermine the
public’s faith in free and fair elections.
Having lost their efforts to destabilize our elections at the national level after the court system
consistently rejected their allegations of fraud, they have turned to state and local organizing. In state
after state, legislators have introduced bills to limit and complicate elections. All funded and supported
by right-wing organizations and activists (Like Mike Lindell, the My Pillow Guy).
The voter fraud road show has also shown up in Cascade County and helped create a cadre of activists
who have busily been wasting local government’s time and resources. Two weeks before the primary
election, on May 24th Teressa Manzella brought featured speaker, Mark Cook, a shadowy figure from
Colorado who purports to be a computer expert specializing in “root cause analysis, for a community
meeting held Heritage Hall at MSU Great Falls as part of a state-wide tour promoting the conspiracy
theory that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump.
Here in Cascade County, there is a very active group of election deniers. As in Nevada and Colorado
voting fraud activists are targeting the county commission. Election deniers across the country are
getting almost no help from local clerk and recorders regardless of political beliefs or party affiliation.
The reason is simple. Clerk and Recorders are intimately involved in our election process, and they
know that the allegations of fraud are a baseless waste of time.
Here in Cascade County, Lewis Zanto, a local realtor who works for Dustin Young and Company, was
given 1 hour on the County Commission agenda to discuss “election integrity” on April 25th. About 35
people attended the meeting including local far-right legislators Lola and Steven Galloway, County
Commission candidate and conspiracy promoter Rae Grulkowski, and various local republican activists.
County Commissioner Joe Briggs pointed out the irony of republican activists complaining about the
2020 election since Republicans won all Cascade County offices. “As I look around the room, I see the
people that I can identify by party roles. Republicans. I’ll just put it that way,” Briggs said. “I would have
expected our folks across the aisle to be the ones that were concerned about what happened in the last
Following this presentation, the Commissioners received a follow-up letter dated June 21 from Jan
Wenaas. In the letter Wenaas said that she wanted to know if action had been taken on the information
“her group” had presented at the April meeting. She also presented her analysis of certain election
software and audit procedures.
On June 24th Deputy County Attorney, Jennifer Quick, responded to the points in Wenaas previous letter with a four-page memo to the County Commissioners. Though the memo obviously took hours to
prepare, in essence the response to Wenaas was that items listed fall under the purview of the clerk and
recorder and/or the Secretary of State. On July 15th the County Commission formally responded to
Wenass and to her ally, Devereaux Biddick, using the information and memo from Deputy County
On July 29 County Commission candidate Rae Grulkowski was back in front of the County Commission,
this time presenting a letter from Devereaux Biddick. In this letter Biddick alleged that the county
primary election did not conform to standards set by the Secretary of State. She requested two
precincts be “reviewed for reconciliation.”
In the early 1990s Montana was plagued by the Freemen, a group conspiracy driven “wing nuts” who
attended public meeting making wild and unsubstantiated allegations of government misconduct. They
also filed blizzards of paperwork snowing over local elected officials. And when their demands weren’t
met, they convened their own courts and issued arrest warrants for local officials. They continued their
efforts to gum up the work of local and state government until the whole scheme came crashing down
in a confrontation with the FBI. At the end of the day these election deniers aren’t much different.
Who’s Who in the Big Lie?
Mark Cook (Mesa County, Colorado) Computer Expert Presenter
Theresa Manzella (legislator from Ravalli County area)
Ron Stahley (Cascade County Republican PAC)
Lou Zanto (Cascade County Republican PAC) – Realtor at Dustin Young & Company andPresident of Prairie