Sandra Merchant, the Cascade County Clerk & Recorder, is scheduled to discuss plans for upcoming elections during a forum on Friday, March 31, 2023.
The presentation was originally scheduled for the County Commission chambers, but has been moved to the Family Living Center at Montana ExpoPark (400 3rd Street NW) due to increased public interest.
The presentation is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m., and people can either attend in person or via Zoom. To participate via Zoom, you must register in advance by clicking here.
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. If you need dial-in access, call 888-788-0099 or 877-853-5247. The Webinar ID is 876 8848 2933, and the password is 586968
Merchant defeated incumbent Rina Fontana Moore in the November 2022 election to become the new Cascade County Clerk & Recorder.
On Monday, March 20, protesters gathered outside the Cascade County Courthouse Annex to protest Merchant's handling of the office since taking over.
The protesters said they are concerned about upcoming elections after the company that normally handled mail ballots, Innovative Postal Services, closed down, putting absentee and mail-in ballots in jeopardy.
“So far, we have not heard much,” said protester Grayce Holzheimer. “We've only heard that she is not going to be implementing mail absentee ballots or doing the levy for the library.”
“You know, she has had every opportunity to make this happen and her issues that she is putting forth, those are those are deflection,” said protester Jasmine Taylor. “This is, at best, incompetence and at worst, intentional malfeasance.”
A smaller group also gathered on March 20 in support of Merchant, who has told stakeholders a poll election might be held instead of a mail-in ballot.
“According to Montana Code Annotated, mail-in ballots are not required,” said Merchant supporter Sharon Thompson. “So what she's doing is fine.”
“You used to have an infrastructure where we went into schools, fire halls and churches and voted,” said Steve Vinnedge, another Merchant supporter. “We had crews in every town. We had boxes. We had a system. And it was counted by the next morning.”
We will update you when we get more information.
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