The following Opinion-Editorial was submitted to Montana1stNews by a highly concerned Great Falls citizen who shared valid concerns in regard to a recent Great Falls Tribune article entitled, “Skeptics Question County Officials.”
A Great Falls Tribune article, “Skeptics Question County Officials” (Murray and Rosenbaum), published on 10/30/22, focuses on a local group that has questioned the elections office and County Commissioners on irregularities found in local and federal elections in Cascade County.
The collective members comprise the local Election Integrity Group of Cascade County. The group has requested information from the Commissioners and Election office about county ES&S voting machines, the use of Mark Zuckerman’s “Zuckerbucks” (CTCL $294,128 grant money), which Rina Fontana-Moore accepted during the 2020 election cycle, the legal use of ballot drop boxes, nepotism by Fontana-Moore who hired her son and daughter-in-law to work for the Elections office to include the June 2022 primary election and other concerns.
The article quotes elected and appointed officials stating, “The questions have burdened the elections, and cost taxpayers added expenses.” However, no transparency was given to the implicated cost or added expenses.
The quoted officials made criticizing comments about the group’s requests, complaining and calling them “demands” as if it were too difficult to provide complete transparency and resolve the election issues.
State Senator Steve Fitzpatrick stated that the concerned citizens are just “Facebook echo chambers”; his comment degrades all citizens of their right to fair and transparent elections.
Don Ryan, who is now running to keep his appointed Cascade County Commissioner seat, was the first to respond in the article with an attack on the local group by claiming that the requested information was intimidating. He stated it “hindered volunteers from wanting to become election judges.” Ryan failed to mention that over 100 volunteers were trained to be election judges in 2022 because these same citizens stepped up to help the Elections office have plenty of volunteers.
He continued to complain about the Election Integrity Group’s findings concerning “local irregularities from the 2020 election.” He was upset that people “inquired to know the name of the election judges” but failed to acknowledge County Clerk and Recorder Rina Fontana-Moore’s ballot judges have been the same people for over a decade.
This poses the question to locals; do you want a commissioner who is concerned that elections are run correctly and legally or a commissioner who doesn’t want to be bothered?
County Clerk and Recorder Rina Fontana-Moore, who is up for re-election, claims the group’s requests have been harassing and could bog down the elections process and delay results, adding, “They have no idea what the process is, and they’re literally making our lives miserable.”
Fontana-Moore claims her campaign is about transparency and integrity, but according to her and others interviewed in the Great Falls Tribune, it is obvious they are confused as to what transparency means. It doesn’t mean calling out groups as harassing and intimidating when they are executing their Constitutional Rights and asking legitimate questions about the laws. The Tribune article encourages these representatives to intimidate the public by belittling the efforts of this grassroots movement.
State Senator Steve Fitzpatrick said, “Anytime you undermine faith in the government process, it’s bad.” Fitzpatrick is ignoring MCA 13-1-202 (4c), which states the Election Administers duty is (c) assist the Secretary of State in making recommendations to improve voter confidence in the integrity of the election process.
November 8th is five days from now, and concerns are still being inquired about. ‘We the People’ need to stand up and demand that elected officials follow laws, not modify them. The rights and freedoms of every American are counting on it.
Do your part, walk in your ballot on November 8th, and demand that it be hand counted! Fontana-Moore claims to have more than enough volunteers!
God Bless America, and God Bless Montana!
[Publisher’s Note: Montana 1st News fully endorses Rae Grulkowski for Cascade County Commissioner and Sandra Merchant for Cascade County Clerk and Recorder-these women are competent, capable, and qualified for these positions]