Montana GOP Cites Marijuana, GOP Rule, As Reasons To Suppress Voting

"Ore., Wash. and Colo. --- they do all-mail-in ballots and they're all marijuana-all-the-time states too"

montana marijuana cannabis
"This bill could be death of our effort to make Montana a reliably Republican state" - Montana GOP Chair Rep. Jeff Essman

Throughout the country, many states have implemented measures that make it harder for people to vote.

By restricting or eliminating measures such as early voting and mail-in voting, Republicans in control of state legislatures seek to suppress votes for their Democratic opposition, as these methods are more reliably used by the poor, working class, and minorities who generally vote blue, not red.

Rarely, however, are GOP officials open in admitting this. But in Montana, Rep. Jeff Essman, the chair of the state’s Republican party, sent a letter out warning that if a recent bill establishing vote-by-mail for a special election is passed, it would threaten GOP power in the state (emphasis mine):

All mail ballots give the Democrats an inherent advantage in close elections due to their ability to organize large numbers of unpaid college students and members of public employee unions to gather ballots by going door to door. Vote-by-mail is designed to increase participation rates of lower propensity voters. Democrats in Montana perform better than Republican candidates among lower propensity voters and Republican candidates do better among higher propensity voters.

I know that my position will not be popular with many fiscally conservative Republican County Commissioners or the sponsor of House Bill 305. They may be well intended, but this bill could be the death of our effort to make Montana a reliably Republican state. It is my job to remind us all of the long term strategic advantage that passage of this bill would provide to our Democrat opponents for control of our legislature and our statewide elected positions.

It’s not just that when more voters participate in elections, Democrats tend to do better. It’s that greater exercise of citizen democracy might lead them to legalize the devil’s lettuce, according to Montana’s Secretary of State, Cory Stapleton:

“If you look at the three states that have done it, you can see that populism and direct democracy at its best, all three states — Oregon, Washington and Colorado — they do all-mail-in ballots and they’re all marijuana-all-the-time states too,” Stapleton said. “Is that what you want? Because that’s what you’re going to get.”

What else do Oregon, Washington, and Colorado have? Three Democratic governors, 5-1 Democratic Senators, and 13-9 Democratic Representatives. Minimum wages exceeding the federal wage by $1.75, $2.00, and $3.75 that help the working poor. Legal physician-assisted suicide that helps the terminally ill. Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion that helps the non-terminally ill. Sanctuary cities that protect the families of immigrants.

Yeah, ain’t it funny how giving the poor and minorities more and easier opportunities to exercise their franchise leads to policies that benefit the poor and minorities, like ending the marijuana prohibition that disproportionately impacts the poor and minorities?

Russ Belville
About Russ Belville 199 Articles

Russ Belville – or “Radical” Russ, as he is known on-air – hosts The Marijuana Agenda, a live news and talk radio program for the cannabis community, weekdays at 3pm Pacific on MJAgenda.com.  The show is based in Portland, Oregon, but “Radical” Russ has traveled over 300,000 air miles in the past five years, bringing his show to report live from hundreds of cannabis conferences, marijuana expos, hemp festivals, and legalization events in over 70 North American cities.