A federal judge dismissed the Trump campaign’s effort to prevent Montana from allowing counties to issue mail ballots in the November election.
Judge Dana Christensen’s decision Wednesday is a victory for Gov. Steve Bullock, who is also running for US Senate.
“Central to some of the Plaintiffs’ claims is the contention that the upcoming election, both nationally and in Montana, will fall prey to widespread voter fraud,” wrote Christensen. “The evidence suggests, however, that this allegation, specifically in Montana, is a fiction.”
The judge wrote that the "plaintiffs have not introduced even an ounce of evidence supporting the assertion that Montana’s use of mail ballots will inundate the election with fraud,” and argued that stopping the mail-in ballots “would have profound, and most likely catastrophic consequences on the administration of Montana’s general election.”
An expert presented by the state said there is no evidence of even a single case of deliberate voter fraud in Montana in the past eight years.
The lawsuit was filed by the Trump campaign and Republican National Committee and joined by the Republican leaders in the Montana House and Senate. It argued that the mail-in ballots for voters who were not absentees amounted to changing election law without the consent of the legislature.
Montana Republican Party Executive Director Spenser Merwin said in a statement, “The state legislature has the sole authority to determine the time, place and manner of elections. Yet Governor Steve Bulock – the very person who the most to hain as a candidate on the ballot this November – unilaterally rewrote election laws in a broader effort to benefit his U.S. Senate campaign.”
Bullock said in a statement that he was pleased with the decision, adding that it "will enable hundreds of thousands of Montanans to vote safely – in person or by mail – this coming election."
"Montanans can rest assured that our local election administrators will preserve the security and integrity of the election process," the governor said in the statement.