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Despite a failed attempt in the U.S. Senate, more than 200 business owners call for federal reforms to strengthen election laws, and the U.S. Supreme Court deals another blow to abortion providers.

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President Biden gets cheers and jeers as he marks his first year in the White House, the Jan. 6 committee wants to hear from Ivanka Trump, and the Supreme Court rejects another challenge to the Texas abortion law.

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Expanded broadband akin to electrification in rural America 80 years ago; small Wyoming grocery store survives monopolization; revitalized Kansas town gets national recognition; and Montana's Native communities look for voter suppression work-arounds.

High Marks for MT Vote-By-Mail, Early Voting – Obstacles Remain

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Monday, August 16, 2021   

HELENA, Mont. - Montana earns points in a new report for providing access to early voting and vote-by-mail, but the achievements come with a major caveat.

The Campaign Legal Center scored the 39 states whose legislative sessions have ended on voting by mail and early-voting opportunities. It says the Treasure State checks off nine out of its ten criteria, making it one of the least restrictive systems in the country.

But Caleb Jackson, legal counsel for voting rights with the Campaign Legal Center, said the state shouldn't celebrate just yet.

"Montana is a state that allows everyone to vote by mail," said Jackson. "It's a state that has a permanent mail voting list, etc. But we know that in Montana voting by mail is not really a viable option for many Native American voters because of unreliable mail service on reservations."

Jackson said the barriers to voting for Native Americans are a big drawback for voting access in the state.

Some of the other criteria in the report include at least two weeks of early in-person voting and ballot drop boxes.

Jackson said there are ways for Montana to make voting more accessible for Native Americans, pointing to two states that have done just that.

"One of those things, for example," said Jackson, "in Washington is that they allow Native American voters to use non-traditional mailing addresses to vote."

He added that Colorado has added drop boxes on reservations.

The report notes that the For the People Act, which passed the U.S. House this year, would make sweeping changes to voting across the country.

Jackson said under the measure, Montana would have to accept ballots postmarked for the day of the election - even if they're received up to ten days later.

"This is something that's in the For the People Act," said Jackson. "And it's something that would make sure that, as long as a voter does their job and makes sure that their ballot is postmarked, they got it to the post office in time, that they're not penalized if there are any delays on the postal service's behalf."

Support for this reporting was provided by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.




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