It didn’t take long. Less than three months after taking office, Merchant’s inability, or unwillingness, to administer elections is already creating chaos in Cascade County. There has been good, comprehensive news coverage in both the Electric and the Daily Montanan of what has been going on.
Obviously, Sandra Merchant has gotten herself into a hot seat. So far her response has been to say the problems at her office are a variety of factors beyond her control. She says the closure of IPS (a mailing company) is responsible. Staff shortages are the problem. Finding a printing company willing to print ballots is the problem. That her refusal to send ballots for the Library levy was a misunderstanding. And on it goes.
What she does not say is that she and her political supporters are election deniers who are fundamentally opposed to mail ballots. They want everyone to vote at a polling place and have ballots counted by hand. She doesn’t mention that her first hire in the Clerk and Recorder’s office is straight out of the election denier crowd here in Cascade County. Nor does she talk about her affiliation with Rae Grulkowski, our newly-elected County Commissioner and conspiracy theorist extraordinaire.
Maybe it doesn’t matter whether the current mess at the Clerk and Recorder’s office is the result of incompetence or Merchant’s belief in election denier mythology. What matters is that people organize to make sure she can’t impose her beliefs on the rest of us by denying free and fair elections.