Montana Election Integrity Meeting

Sam’s kind of slowed down during pregnancy, and asked me to attend the meeting from the Montana Election Integrity folks.  I picked up some material, and had a brief, pleasant conversation with Jane Rectenwald – frankly, I liked the lady, but remember, I find most politicians easy to like. 

I hadn’t been in the Timbers Lodge since the seventies, so it was pleasant going back in the building and seeing the logs supporting the roof, and that the remodeling fits well with my memories.  Attendance was on the light side of fifty, and I suspect that at 73 I was probably close to the median age. 

As a general rule, I’m in favor of election integrity.  I also have the idea that you shouldn’t start by looking at a conspiracy where stupidity, carelessness and laziness combine to provide an adequate explanation.  Yes, we’ve had some bizarre election irregularities in Lincoln County – but I’m not sure that the default position of looking at whichever election administrator is responsible as either stupid, careless, or lazy doesn’t provide an adequate explanation – though I might embrace the power of the word “and”.

Rectenwald pointed out several times that Christi Jacobsen pulled more votes than Donald Trump – and that she had never before been elected to state office.  Well, the problem isn’t that an attractive, relatively unknown woman who ran a good campaign could pull more votes than Donald Trump.  See, I think I voted for both of them – but the choice between Biden and Trump was what the headshrinkers call avoidance-avoidance.  My distaste for Joe Biden pushed me into being a Trump voter . . . but I well understand the folks who went the other way. The ones I don’t understand are the never-trumpers and the only-trumpers.

“More Democrat votes were certified in 2020 for the Supt. of Public Instruction than for Biden for President.”  I’m not a bit surprised – I’m used to having Democrats as the State Soup, and face it- Biden just doesn’t pull well in Montana. 

I found the numbers interesting on Zuckerman contributions to Montana for elections – Rectenwald pointed out spots where that violates state law.  According to the list of “Zuckerbucks Per Capita Used in US 2020 Election, Montana receive $2.26 per head for the counties that received Zuckerbucks.  The best one was the $256,433 total received by Blaine County – which has about the same population as the Lincoln County High School district.  (Yellowstone County (Billings) received $320,593).  If I was trying to buy an election, I sure wouldn’t be donating a quarter of a million to Chinook – and to be fair, I did work there in the early 80’s when I was with SCS, and for some reason I had access to the indoor pistol range in the basement – a nice perk in the winter. 

Now they have data from a guy named Seth Kershel who estimates excess votes for counties – and the map shows them up colored in green (which means historic voting data is consistent with 2020 results) yellow (suspect/likely fraud) and red (rampant, obvious, ugly).  Lincoln County is colored yellow – but my roots go deep here – through the seventies, Lincoln County was a Union Democrat county – Republicans couldn’t win a county-wide election.  Over the years, our county has moved to the Republican column – so far that on the last ballot, the general election was over at the Primary – we had no Democrat candidates.  Zero.  None.  Nada.

As population changes, it is fairly easy to point out how elections can be expected to change.  I haven’t done any detailed analysis, but a lot of our California immigrants came from Bakersfield, not San Francisco.  Bakersfield leans Republican.  Retirees are going to be more so.  I can set up a testable hypothesis that our California immigrants have a tendency to be more to the right side of the political map.  My data handling experience was predominately based around the Census – but data is data. 

Montana Election Integrity has been around for about 20 years.  In that length of time, we’re bound to have had some level of election chicanery.  The problem is, there is nothing that is statistically impossible – merely statistically unlikely.  I played pinochle in a game where I finally learned the deck was marked – one of the horses backing the jack of diamonds and one backing the queen of spades had a white blaze.  The game got a lot fairer after I added about a dozen more blazes.  I’ve drawn two cards and wound up with four of a kind – it’s statistically unlikely, when I was holding 3 jacks, the odds of getting the fourth was 1 out of 47.  Fraud is hard to prove – and if you do have a fraudster, he can be expected to deny it.  I suspect the folks at Montana Election Integrity could stand to have some better stats guy on hand.

And I still believe sub-section 7 does mandate write-in votes for positions where no one has filed are to be counted.  The fact that our Election Administrator doesn’t do show doesn’t show that Paula has a conspiracy going – after all, never look for a conspiracy where stupidity, carelessness and laziness provide an adequate explanation.

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