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Election Denial in Montana

  • 1 Election Denier currently holds statewide office with election oversight power.

  • 1 Election Denier is on the ballot for statewide office.

  • 1 Election Denier has held, or run for, statewide office since 2020.

  • 3 Election Deniers are sitting members of Congress.

  • 1 Election Denier are running for Congress.

The landscape in Montana

It’s a story playing out across the country as good-faith public servants confront a climate of mistrust and harassment: In one Montana county, all three election officials resigned in frustration after baseless allegations of fraud in a 2022 congressional primary.

As they leave, election officials are taking priceless institutional knowledge with them. A 2023 report by Issue One found that half of the 76 million Americans who live in the West have a new chief local election official since 2020.

Montana is also among the states that have banned private donations to support election funding. And the state Attorney General, while not classified as an Election Denier, has been accused of spreading misinformation about elections.

Top Republicans in Montana refused to acknowledge the truth about the 2020 election even many weeks later, and Republican officials in at least two counties passed resolutions as late as the summer of 2022 rejecting the 2020 results.

One of Montana’s members of Congress was among the 147 who voted to object to valid election results during the electoral count after the 2020 election.

1 Election Denier holds statewide Office right now.

Elections are run by the states. In Montana, the Governor, Attorney General, and Secretary of State are the state officials responsible for overseeing elections. It’s up to them to make sure the will of the people is always respected.

Read more about The Roles of Our Elected Officials in Elections

All parties
Election Deniers
Headshot of Greg Gianforte
R
Greg Gianforte

Governor of Montana

Term started 2021

Term ends 2025

Election Denier
Election Denial Record What makes an Election Denier
  • Taken action to undermine the integrity of the 2020 presidential election or subsequent election cycles, including:

    • Filing or supporting litigation seeking to overturn the results based on conspiracies or baseless legal theories.

    • Filing or supporting litigation that was sanctioned for being malicious or without merit in the aftermath of an election.

    • Promoting or participating in a Stop the Steal–sponsored or branded event or rally during or following the 2020 election.

    • Calling for a “forensic audit” of the 2020 presidential election or a race in subsequent elections after the results were certified, were officially audited, or stood up to multiple legal challenges.

  • Falsely claimed former President Trump won the 2020 presidential election instead of the legitimate winner, President Biden.

  • Spread lies or promoted conspiracies about the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election or subsequent election cycles in public, including in social media, press statements, or comments to the press.

  • Refused to certify, or called on or pressured election officials to refuse to certify, the 2020 presidential election results or a race in subsequent elections based on meritless claims about election fraud, voter fraud, misinformation, or lies.

  • Refused to concede a race, or publicly supported a candidate’s refusal to concede a race, after the results were officially audited or stood up to multiple legal challenges.

Proof Points
Click a proof to view

1 Election Denier is on statewide Ballots in races we're tracking.

Montana has a race in 2024 for at least one of the statewide offices that oversee elections. Here are the candidates.

Read more about The Roles of Our Elected Officials in Elections

All parties
Election Deniers
All Entrants
Headshot of Greg Gianforte
R
Greg Gianforte

Running for Governor of Montana

Won Primary
Election Denier
Incumbent
Election Denial Record What makes an Election Denier
  • Taken action to undermine the integrity of the 2020 presidential election or subsequent election cycles, including:

    • Filing or supporting litigation seeking to overturn the results based on conspiracies or baseless legal theories.

    • Filing or supporting litigation that was sanctioned for being malicious or without merit in the aftermath of an election.

    • Promoting or participating in a Stop the Steal–sponsored or branded event or rally during or following the 2020 election.

    • Calling for a “forensic audit” of the 2020 presidential election or a race in subsequent elections after the results were certified, were officially audited, or stood up to multiple legal challenges.

  • Falsely claimed former President Trump won the 2020 presidential election instead of the legitimate winner, President Biden.

  • Spread lies or promoted conspiracies about the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election or subsequent election cycles in public, including in social media, press statements, or comments to the press.

  • Refused to certify, or called on or pressured election officials to refuse to certify, the 2020 presidential election results or a race in subsequent elections based on meritless claims about election fraud, voter fraud, misinformation, or lies.

  • Refused to concede a race, or publicly supported a candidate’s refusal to concede a race, after the results were officially audited or stood up to multiple legal challenges.

Proof Points
Click a proof to view

3 Election Deniers are sitting members of congress right now.

Election Deniers make up 75 percent of Montana’s 4-member Congressional delegation. Members of Congress have a public platform to build up or tear down trust in our elections. And they have concrete responsibilities, too, such as determining federal funding for elections.

Read more about The Roles of Our Elected Officials in Elections

All parties
Election Deniers
Headshot of Steve Daines
R
Steve Daines

Senator of Montana

Term started 2021

Term ends 2027

Election Denier
Election Denial Record What makes an Election Denier
  • Refused to certify, or called on or pressured election officials to refuse to certify, the 2020 presidential election results or a race in subsequent elections based on meritless claims about election fraud, voter fraud, misinformation, or lies.

  • Falsely claimed former President Trump won the 2020 presidential election instead of the legitimate winner, President Biden.

  • Spread lies or promoted conspiracies about the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election or subsequent election cycles in public, including in social media, press statements, or comments to the press.

  • Taken action to undermine the integrity of the 2020 presidential election or subsequent election cycles, including:

    • Filing or supporting litigation seeking to overturn the results based on conspiracies or baseless legal theories.

    • Filing or supporting litigation that was sanctioned for being malicious or without merit in the aftermath of an election.

    • Promoting or participating in a Stop the Steal–sponsored or branded event or rally during or following the 2020 election.

    • Calling for a “forensic audit” of the 2020 presidential election or a race in subsequent elections after the results were certified, were officially audited, or stood up to multiple legal challenges.

  • Refused to concede a race, or publicly supported a candidate’s refusal to concede a race, after the results were officially audited or stood up to multiple legal challenges.

Proof Points
Click a proof to view
Headshot of Ryan Zinke
R
Ryan Zinke

Representative of Montana, District 1

Term started 2023

Term ends 2025

Election Denier
Election Denial Record What makes an Election Denier
  • Spread lies or promoted conspiracies about the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election or subsequent election cycles in public, including in social media, press statements, or comments to the press.

  • Falsely claimed former President Trump won the 2020 presidential election instead of the legitimate winner, President Biden.

  • Refused to certify, or called on or pressured election officials to refuse to certify, the 2020 presidential election results or a race in subsequent elections based on meritless claims about election fraud, voter fraud, misinformation, or lies.

  • Taken action to undermine the integrity of the 2020 presidential election or subsequent election cycles, including:

    • Filing or supporting litigation seeking to overturn the results based on conspiracies or baseless legal theories.

    • Filing or supporting litigation that was sanctioned for being malicious or without merit in the aftermath of an election.

    • Promoting or participating in a Stop the Steal–sponsored or branded event or rally during or following the 2020 election.

    • Calling for a “forensic audit” of the 2020 presidential election or a race in subsequent elections after the results were certified, were officially audited, or stood up to multiple legal challenges.

  • Refused to concede a race, or publicly supported a candidate’s refusal to concede a race, after the results were officially audited or stood up to multiple legal challenges.

Proof Points
Click a proof to view
Headshot of Matt Rosendale
R
Matt Rosendale

Representative of Montana, District 2

Term started 2023

Term ends 2025

Election Denier
Election Denial Record What makes an Election Denier
  • Refused to certify, or called on or pressured election officials to refuse to certify, the 2020 presidential election results or a race in subsequent elections based on meritless claims about election fraud, voter fraud, misinformation, or lies.

  • Falsely claimed former President Trump won the 2020 presidential election instead of the legitimate winner, President Biden.

  • Spread lies or promoted conspiracies about the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election or subsequent election cycles in public, including in social media, press statements, or comments to the press.

  • Taken action to undermine the integrity of the 2020 presidential election or subsequent election cycles, including:

    • Filing or supporting litigation seeking to overturn the results based on conspiracies or baseless legal theories.

    • Filing or supporting litigation that was sanctioned for being malicious or without merit in the aftermath of an election.

    • Promoting or participating in a Stop the Steal–sponsored or branded event or rally during or following the 2020 election.

    • Calling for a “forensic audit” of the 2020 presidential election or a race in subsequent elections after the results were certified, were officially audited, or stood up to multiple legal challenges.

  • Refused to concede a race, or publicly supported a candidate’s refusal to concede a race, after the results were officially audited or stood up to multiple legal challenges.

Proof Points
Click a proof to view

1 Election Denier is running for congress in races we're tracking.

Here are the Election Deniers running in 2024 to represent Montana in the House or Senate who are advancing to November. Remember: For members of Congress elected this year, one of their first responsibilities will be voting on whether to certify the 2024 Presidential election.

Note: We are only tracking Election Deniers who have won their primaries and are advancing to the November general election. We are not tracking all Election Denier candidates ahead of state primaries. Click here to view Election Deniers who already hold seats in Congress right now.

Read more about The Roles of Our Elected Officials in Elections

All parties
Election Deniers
Headshot of Ryan Zinke
R
Ryan Zinke

Running for Representative of Montana, District 1

Won Primary
Election Denier
Incumbent
Election Denial Record What makes an Election Denier
  • Spread lies or promoted conspiracies about the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election or subsequent election cycles in public, including in social media, press statements, or comments to the press.

  • Falsely claimed former President Trump won the 2020 presidential election instead of the legitimate winner, President Biden.

  • Refused to certify, or called on or pressured election officials to refuse to certify, the 2020 presidential election results or a race in subsequent elections based on meritless claims about election fraud, voter fraud, misinformation, or lies.

  • Taken action to undermine the integrity of the 2020 presidential election or subsequent election cycles, including:

    • Filing or supporting litigation seeking to overturn the results based on conspiracies or baseless legal theories.

    • Filing or supporting litigation that was sanctioned for being malicious or without merit in the aftermath of an election.

    • Promoting or participating in a Stop the Steal–sponsored or branded event or rally during or following the 2020 election.

    • Calling for a “forensic audit” of the 2020 presidential election or a race in subsequent elections after the results were certified, were officially audited, or stood up to multiple legal challenges.

  • Refused to concede a race, or publicly supported a candidate’s refusal to concede a race, after the results were officially audited or stood up to multiple legal challenges.

Proof Points
Click a proof to view

How Montana compares

Every state runs its own elections, with its own laws and processes. Check out how Montana compares with other states in its region when it comes to Election Deniers holding state election administration jobs.

Election Denial in Rocky Mountain States

Sitting official is an Election Denier

  1. In Utah, the chief election official is the Lieutenant Governor, elected alongside the Governor.

1 Election Denier has held, or has run for, statewide Office since 2020.

Even one Election Denier with election oversight power is a threat to the will of the people. Here are the Election Deniers who have sought control over Montana elections in recent years.

All parties
All
Headshot of Greg Gianforte
R
Greg Gianforte

Governor of Montana

Term started 2021

Term ends 2025

Sitting Official
Election Denier
Election Denial Record What makes an Election Denier
  • Taken action to undermine the integrity of the 2020 presidential election or subsequent election cycles, including:

    • Filing or supporting litigation seeking to overturn the results based on conspiracies or baseless legal theories.

    • Filing or supporting litigation that was sanctioned for being malicious or without merit in the aftermath of an election.

    • Promoting or participating in a Stop the Steal–sponsored or branded event or rally during or following the 2020 election.

    • Calling for a “forensic audit” of the 2020 presidential election or a race in subsequent elections after the results were certified, were officially audited, or stood up to multiple legal challenges.

  • Falsely claimed former President Trump won the 2020 presidential election instead of the legitimate winner, President Biden.

  • Spread lies or promoted conspiracies about the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election or subsequent election cycles in public, including in social media, press statements, or comments to the press.

  • Refused to certify, or called on or pressured election officials to refuse to certify, the 2020 presidential election results or a race in subsequent elections based on meritless claims about election fraud, voter fraud, misinformation, or lies.

  • Refused to concede a race, or publicly supported a candidate’s refusal to concede a race, after the results were officially audited or stood up to multiple legal challenges.

Proof Points
Click a proof to view

Voter turnout over time

Voters are always the backstop against election denial, whether Election Deniers are already in office or vying for power. It’s important to turn out for every election in your state—and to vote in every race on your ballot. Downballot races, like contests for Attorney General and Secretary of State, have historically drawn fewer voters, even though the positions are critical to keeping elections free, fair, and secure. Here’s a look at voter participation in Montana elections over time. Notice that in years with several important positions up for election, some voters choose not to vote in every race.

Voter Participation in Montana Since 2016

#071B40
President
#2455A0
Senator
#4387F1
Governor
#A7C5F3
Attorney General
#EDF3FD
Secretary of State
  1. 2016 Presidential

    • President had a 63% voter turnout rate

    • Governor had a 65% voter turnout rate

    • Attorney General had a 62% voter turnout rate

    • Secretary of State had a 63% voter turnout rate

  2. 2018 Midterm

    • Senator had a 63% voter turnout rate

  3. 2020 Presidential

    • President had a 73% voter turnout rate

    • Senator had a 74% voter turnout rate

    • Governor had a 73% voter turnout rate

    • Attorney General had a 72% voter turnout rate

    • Secretary of State had a 72% voter turnout rate

Voter turnout

Data on the number of votes cast in each race are from state elections depositories, supplemented with data from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), House Election Statistics, and The Book of States. Rates are calculated using the Census’s Citizen Voting Age Population (CVAP) estimates.

Beyond the ballot box

Each year, state legislators introduce thousands of bills related to elections. And in the past few years, we’ve identified a concerning trend. Across the country, state legislatures are considering bills that would make it easier for partisan actors to manipulate an election, and maybe even overturn the will of the people. We’re tracking these bills along with our partners in an ongoing series of reports called “A Democracy Crisis in the Making.” All told, in the 2023 legislative cycle, we identified 196 bills that were introduced in 39 states that would interfere with election administration. Ultimately, 21 of those bills became law across 15 states, while 7 bills were vetoed across 2 states.

The anti-democracy playbook is simple: change the rules and change the referees, in order to change the results. These bills go hand-in-hand with the Election Denier movement: They’re about taking power away from voters and making it harder for trusted election officials to do their jobs.

Read the full report

Legislative Interference in Montana by Category

As of November 15, 2023, 8 bills had been introduced or were under consideration in Montana. 1 has been enacted or adopted and none have been vetoed after passing.

These bills show that the threat to elections in Montana, and all across the country, goes well beyond the ballot box.

  • Imposing disproportionate criminal or other penalties.
    These bills would create or expand penalties for election officials in the ordinary execution of their jobs, including criminalizing inadvertent mistakes.
  • Creating unworkable burdens in election administration.
    These bills would interfere with the basic procedures of election administration, increasing the risk of chaos and delay and enabling misleading claims of irregularity.
  • Seizing power over election responsibilities.
    These bills would shift election administration responsibilities away from professional, nonpartisan officials and toward partisan actors in the legislature.
  • Usurping control over election results.
    These bills would give legislators or other state officials direct control over election outcomes.
  • Requiring partisan or unprofessional election “audits” or reviews.
    These bills would establish vague post-election review schemes without the professional standards of traditional audits.

One of these bills was enacted or adopted. That bill fell into the categories of creating unworkable burdens in election administration and imposing disproportionate criminal or other penalties.