A reality based independent journal of observation & analysis, serving the Flathead Valley & Montana since 2006. © James Conner.

16 May 2017 — 1712 mdt

The long, lonesome, journey of a ballot from Whitefish

A friend mailed his ballot from Whitefish at the end of last week. It was postmarked in Missoula on 8 May, received by the Flathead County Elections Department on 12 May, time-stamped with that date, and on 15 May entered into the state’s database as accepted. My friend believes the elections department processed his ballot efficiently, and I agree.

But the U.S. Postal Service’s handling of his ballot was the antithesis of efficiency.

Kalispell is 15 crow flying miles south of Kalispell, a 20-minute drive for voters. But the postman traveled 275 miles over five days to move the ballot from Whitefish to Kalispell. That’s not just unacceptable, it’s crazy.

In my first post today, I recommended that Montana adopt a postmarked on or by election day law for mail ballots. The long, lonesome, journey of my friend’s ballot makes clear the need for an accompanying federal law requiring that the USPS carry ballots via the shortest great circle route, or the closest approximation thereof, and that ballots be postmarked in the town from which they were mailed and on the same day they were mailed.

Will mail ballot loving Democrats support these changes in the law?

Meanwhile, if you haven’t mailed your mail ballot, don’t. Hand deliver it to the elections department. The USPS no longer reliably moves mail quickly enough this close to election day.

Two hacking attempts at Flathead Memo today

The first was an email from Russia trying to hijack my flatheadmemo.com domain name. It was disguised as an email from my internet service provider, but after examining the raw source code, I learned it was really from Russia.

The second occurred while I was reading a webpage at the New York Times, to which I subscribe. A small page popped up, appearing to be from Adobe, warning me that I needed to update Adobe Flash. I didn’t bite. And after checking with Adobe, I confirmed I was running the application’s latest version. If I had clicked on the pop-up, I might have installed ransomware.

Be careful out there.

Campaign finance notes

Rob Quist has raised over three million dollars, much of it in small donations. That’s a record for a Democratic U.S. House candidate for Montana, and proof that Democrats can raise plenty of money for U.S. House elections if they make the effort.

Quist’s Republican opponent, Bozeman businessman Greg Gianforte has raised approximately a million dollars more, providing two million dollars of his own money in loans and contributions. Is he trying to buy the election? Of course. That’s nothing new — and, reports Politico, it’s a dispiriting and disquieting national trend practiced by both parties.

Here’s the Federal Election Commission’s summary for Montana as of the end of April:


Third parties have spent millions more. At Bigsky Words, Greg Strandberg has looked at how the candidates have spent their money.