©2016 Concerned Citizens of Western Montana
There is no getting around the fact that the recent FJBC election, “managed”–or more correctly mismanaged by Lake County election officials, disenfranchised more than 700 voters representing thousands of irrigated acres in the Flathead Irrigation Project. The election was fundamentally and irrevocably compromised, forcing the FJBC to cancel the election.
So the question before the FJBC on May 23 became one of choosing to move forward to schedule and arrange a new, clean election, or accepting the results of a tainted election. The intense dialogue around this issue invoked all of the things that we, as Americans, know are our responsibilities, and our rights:
- Military veterans, of which there are many within the Flathead Irrigation Project, reminded us all that people have fought and died for the rights we now sometimes take for granted–like voting. They did not take an oath to protect the Constitution of the United States, and die, to have voters disenfranchised because of careless county election officials. EVERY VOTE COUNTS.
- Reflecting our Declaration of Independence, Americans know fundamentally that there shall be no taxation without representation. Disenfranchising hundreds of taxpaying citizens within the Flathead Irrigation Project is at its heart, taxation without representation! And this will not be tolerated.
- America is a nation of laws, not of men. By not following the law, or “letting it slide”, we become a nation ruled by the whims of ordinary, unprincipled men. The FJBC elects to follow the law, not the whims of any one person.
What also came to light in this meeting was the systemic violations that persist in the Lake County elections office–no ballot secrecy, voter intimidation, and no accountability even for basic things such as ballots received, ballots rejected, or ballots not sent out. All of these problems have plagued elections in Lake County for years. Letting this kind of incompetence and lack of accountability continue is not an option.
By a 10-2 margin, the FJBC resolved to move forward to schedule and hold a new election, in close collaboration with County officials, and as soon as practicably possible. This permits the implementation of a clean election not compromised by the errors created by Lake County, and permits all the parties to move forward without litigation.
As one Commissioner stated, “its time to stop looking in the rear view mirror, and move forward”.
The FJBC chose forward thinking. That is true leadership!