Merchant’s Election Plan Meeting shows insurmountable Incompetence.
Yesterday over 200 citizens attended a special meeting of the Cascade County Commission to hear Sandra Merchant’s election plan. The meeting started with Commissioner Rae Grulkowski acting as intellectual body guard for Merchant, and telling the audience only questions related to the presentation itself would be answered. Unfortunately for Grulkowski, Merchant wasn’t even capable of answering those questions.
Merchant’s powerpoint presentation read like a third grade book report, irrelevant images and bouncing text included. All it was missing was a star swipe. And, of course, an actual plan to hold the elections. But a plan was notably absent. Rather, Merchant proffered a list of excuses as to why she hasn’t prepared for the upcoming elections. She blamed redistricting, the closure of IPS, and harped on the possibility of a five hour trip to use a different business. (Note: A five hour trip is a regular occurrence for Montanans, and it doesn’t cost $40k+ to make that trip happen.)
Sprinkled into her excuses was overt anti-election sentiment. Instead of providing voters a timeline, costs, and transparency, Merchant used her time to present a list of why mail elections are bad and a “history” of school poll elections. Preventing mail elections is a popular voter-suppression method among election deniers like Merchant and Grukowlski.
Even more alarming than the pedestrian presentation, Merchant failed to answer even basic questions about the upcoming elections and her duties. Merchant would not answer simple “yes” or “no” questions, such as if the school and library elections would be mail elections. When pressed, Grulkowski continuously stepped in, tried to stop citizens from asking their questions, and allowed Merchant to sit virtually silent without providing a single direct answer.
Asked directly, multiple times, Merchant could not say how much poll elections would cost as compared to mail elections. She could not say if the library and school district would be responsible for those increased costs, or what the relevant contracts stated. Commissioner Briggs specifically asked about the increased number of election judges, and Merchant seemingly was not able to grasp the question whatsoever.
Essentially, the only information Merchant offered was that elections will take place on time. However, she provided no details as to how and at what cost. Voters asked in-depth, knowledgeable questions which deserve clear and transparent answers. Despite her opening statement about transparency, Merchant provided none.
After yesterday’s debacle, it is clear that Cascade County voters cannot trust Sandra Merchant.