What’s Wrong with Corey Stapleton?

Three shocking events concerning foreign interference in state and national elections were revealed last week. The Senate Intelligence Committee released a report  detailing “unprecedented” Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election in all 50 states; Robert Mueller testified before two House committees that Russia and other foreign nations were “doing it [election inference] as we sit here, and they expect to do it in the next campaign;” and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell shot down two bills already passed by the House to give states more money to implement election security measures. In the meantime, Montana’s Secretary of State Corey Stapleton wants to launch new election software that Montana’s clerks and recorders say shouldn’t be rolled out until after the 2020 elections.

Given the significance of the indisputable evidence of efforts to interfere in our national and state elections, one might reasonably expect Stapleton to approach the contentious 2020 elections with a high degree of caution and take every possible effort to ensure the highest level of security for Montana’s electorate.

But as revealed in a recent Montana Free Press article, Stapleton has done almost exactly the opposite. First he signed a $2 million exclusive contract with a South Dakota firm for new election software — which has had problems in other states — without going through the standard government process of putting out a request for proposals. Considering it’s taxpayer money Stapleton is spending, one may have thought it would be prudent to consider various proposals for their cost/benefits and operational reviews by election experts. And of course it’s certainly not radical to perhaps have included the people who do the election work in Montana, the clerks and recorders, in the selection process. Then again, Stapleton has already been nailed for inappropriately awarding a no-bid $250,000 contract to a Republican-connected printing firm to re-do the Voter Information Pamphlet he apparently didn’t have time to proofread.

Stapleton’s actions prompted a long letter from the Montana Clerk and Recorder’s and Elections Administrators Association in which the on-the-ground elections officials expressed concerns over the timeline and reliability of the new system and called Stapleton’s intent to implement it before the 2020 election “very worrisome.” To back up their concerns, the association detailed the state’s past experience with new voter systems and concluded they “are not confident that the conversion along with adequate testing and training can occur in time for the 2020 election cycle.”

As noted in a Billings Gazette editorial, when asked about the details Stapleton’s office replied that it “could not comment on the new system because of a request not to speak on the issue by the federal Department of Homeland Security and the Montana National Guard.” But when the Gazette checked, “both the National Guard and the Department of Homeland Security have said neither agency has asked the Secretary of State to remain silent.” In other words, Stapleton’s office lied outright.

It’s well known that President Trump discounted the reports from U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in the 2016 elections because he doesn’t want to admit he may have been illegitimately elected with the help of a foreign power. Meanwhile, Stapleton is trying to quickly force a new election system on Montana and Sen. Mitch McConnell kills election security bills calling them a “political benefit” to Democrats.

If anyone is playing politics with election security, it’s seems to be Republicans Trump, McConnell and Stapleton. Given the broad agreement on the severity of the threat to our electoral systems from foreign intervention, Montanans can and should credibly ask “what’s wrong with Corey Stapleton?”

More articles by:

George Ochenski is a columnist for the Missoulian, where this essay originally appeared.

March 31, 2020
Jonathan Cook
Netanyahu Uses Coronavirus to Lure Rival Gantz into ‘Emergency’ Government
Vijay Prashad, Du Xiaojun – Weiyan Zhu
Growing Xenophobia Against China in the Midst of CoronaShock
Patrick Cockburn
Trump’s Chernobyl Moment: the US May Lose Its Status as World Superpower and Not Recover
Roger Harris
Beyond Chutzpah: US Charges Venezuela With Nacro-Terrorism
M. K. Bhadrakumar
Has America Reached Its Endgame in Afghanistan?
Thomas Klikauer
COVID-19 in Germany: Explaining a Low Death Rate
Dave Lindorff
We’ve Met the Enemy and It’s a Tiny Virus
Binoy Kampmark
Barbaric Decisions: Coronavirus, Refusing Bail and Julian Assange
Nicolas J S Davies
Why is the U.S. so Exceptionally Vulnerable to Covid-19?
James Bovard
The Deep State’s Demolition of Democracy
Michael Doliner
Face Off: the Problem With Social Distancing
John Feffer
The Politics of COVID-19
Mel Gurtov
Trump’s Cure and Our Disease
Howard Lisnoff
The Fault Lines of a Failed Society Begin to Open Up Into Chasms
Nino Pagliccia
Cuba: An Example of Solidarity In a Time of Crisis
Ralph Nader
Out of the Coronavirus Crisis Can Come Efficient Historic Changes for Justice
Thomas Stephens
Apocalyptic and Revolutionary Education in Times of Pandemic
Edward Martin
Erik Olin Wright and the Anti-Capitalist Economy
March 30, 2020
Marshall Auerback
Washington Uses the Pandemic to Create a $2 Trillion Slush Fund for Its Cronies
Ron Jacobs
Going After Maduro
Justin Podur
When Economists Try to Solve Health Crises, the Results Can Often be Disastrous
Thomas Knapp
Decarceration: COVID-19 is Opportunity Knocking
Arshad Khan - Meena Miriam Yust
Dying Planet and a Virus Unleashed
William Astore
How My Dad Predicted the Decline of America
Seth Sandronsky
Reclaiming Vacant Homes in the COVID-19 Pandemic
John G. Russell
Racial Profiling Disorder: the All-American Pandemic
Vijay Prashad, Paola Estrada, Ana Maldonado, and Zoe PC
As the World Tackles the COVID-19 Pandemic, the U.S. Raises the Pressure on Venezuela
Laura Flanders
Covid-19: Our Health Crisis is Born of Bigotry
Cesar Chelala
The New World of Coronavirus
Lawrence Wittner
The World’s Major Military and Economic Powers Find Happiness Elusive
Ted Rall
My Dead French Grandfather Helped Me with COVID-19
Rob Okun
A Citizens’ Call to Invoke the Twenty-fifth Amendment
Ashar Foley
COVID-19 Proves It: We Need Medicare-for-All
Robert Koehler
The Virus is Our Teacher
Wim Laven
Are You Prepared to Needlessly Die for Your Country?
Jill Richardson
Stay Home, Stay Angry
What’s Wrong with Ranked Choice Voting
Mike Garrity
Alliance for the Wild Rockies Sues Trump’s Bureau of Reclamation for Bull Trout Fatalities in Saint Mary-Milk River Irrigation Project on the east Side of Glacier National Park
Weekend Edition
March 27, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Rob Urie
Bailouts for the Rich, the Virus for the Rest of Us
Louis Proyect
Life and Death in the Epicenter
Paul Street
“I Will Not Kill My Mother for Your Stock Portfolio”
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: The Scum Also Rises
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
Stimulus Bill Allows Federal Reserve to Conduct Meetings in Secret; Gives Fed $454 Billion Slush Fund for Wall Street Bailouts
Jefferson Morley
Could the Death of the National Security State be a Silver Lining of COVID-19?
Ruth Hopkins
A Message For America from Brazil’s First Indigenous Congresswoman