As E City Beats’ favorite recurring character, it’s not uncommon for my Saturday to be interrupted by a message regarding yet another article starring yours truly.  Republican Extremists must be feeling particularly threatened as this week they’ve actually released two.

The goal of both articles is to misplace blame for Clerk and Recorder, Sandra Merchant’s, continued failures. E City Beat would prefer you pay no attention to the woman behind the curtain. Instead, they seek to villainize the people fighting for public transparency and election integrity.

So what is the Election Protection Committee? 

The Election Protection Committee (EPC) was formed a few months ago in response to Merchant’s seeming inability to conduct the (then) upcoming School Board Election. Our Committee brought me into contact with several folks I’ve never worked with before. It’s easy to pretend all Democrats are a monolith, but the reality is that Montana Democrats are comprised of a spectrum of beliefs.   However, the right to free and fair elections is one of those fundamentals that we can all agree on.

So, for several months the EPC has been monitoring the activity of Sandra Merchant, to assure that Cascade County voters rights are not being violated.  This monitoring has uncovered many glaring irregularities in Merchant’s work, any one of which could potentially invalidate the May 2, 2023 elections.

Merchant’s Failures Are Well Documented

Merchant’s numerous irregularities have been thoroughly reported on. You can read an abbreviated list of them in this article:

Now Merchant’s supporters are desperately trying to shift the focus away from her failures. Indeed, they can’t even pretend these mistakes don’t exist. Instead, they’re targeting the Election Protection Committee and its members. I don’t disagree with their characterization of me as a “Democrat activist” and surely it is no surprise that I’d be involved in local activism efforts.  Perhaps what they’re truly scared of is that the rest of the committee is wholly moderate. In fact, the EPC’s social media group includes a number of Republicans who stated they voted for Merchant and now don’t think she is competent.

The only deflection and distraction occurring here is coming from the Merchant camp and her friends at E City Beat. They can’t deny Merchant’s numerous mistakes, so instead they are attacking those of us  monitoring and reporting those mistakes. The EPC has done a tremendous job these last few months. Without our monitoring, the public likely would not know the depth and breadth of Merchant’s errors. It makes perfect sense that Merchant’s supporters would try to silence us. We’re the ones informing the public, and they don’t want voters to know just how badly Merchant is failing. 

These attacks will not deter our work. Sandra Merchant has violated the public trust. She and her supporters are doing everything they can to operate outside of the public view. Despite her campaign promises of transparency, Merchant hides behind Commissioner Rae Grukowlski and a group of “volunteers” who are neither elected officials nor county employees, and who have no business running the elections office.

The Election Protection Committee is committed to ensuring free and fair elections in Cascade County. Sandra Merchant is not up to that task. We will continue to monitor and inform the public of the numerous errors and irregularities Merchant is responsible for. E City Beat can write all the spurious attacks they want. Hating us won’t make Sandra Merchant competent.