Since Sandra Merchant took office a Cascade County Clerk and Recorder, there has been a problem with every election.  There are lawsuits against her office right now.

Drainage District/Irrigation District Lawsuits Filed

Get Caught Up: Preliminary Election Results, November 7, 2023

On November 7, 2023 Cascade County held elections.

November 20, 2023: the date that canvassing was to be completed and reported to the Commissioners of our County.

To hold that meeting, there was to be public notification 48 hours out (business day hours).  Sandra Merchant sent out that notice on Friday November 17, 2021.  Legally, not a big enough window. That's why commissioners Briggs and Larson refused to attend the potentially unlawful meeting, leaving Commissioner Grulkowski without a quorum.  The meeting has been rescheduled for November 22, 2023.  Either way, Merchant has not reported either the meeting or the results required by the State of Montana in the time frame of the law.

In my first article, I made it clear that these were preliminary results.  I'd like everyone to know about canvassing and exactly what that means from Montana Secretary of State, Christi Jacobsen.

What Is A Canvass?

• The canvass is a process that ensures the number of ballots voted are the number of ballots counted, and that no ballots are missing or counted more than once.

• Ballots are counted on election night, but election results are not canvassed by the county until up to 14 days later.

• The canvass is what makes your election results official.

• Canvassing also ensures that election results are accurate

Who Does The Canvass And When?

(With the exception of a School Board Election) Board of County Commissioners

• Canvass board meets at the regular place of meeting within 14 days aftereach election.

• In counties with machine tabulators, canvass cannot begin until at leastone day after post-election audit of tabulators.

• Provisional, FWAB and electronically transmitted UOCAVA ballots that are not counted on election night are counted after 3 p.m. on the Monday following the election; do not schedule your canvass before this date and/or before the post-election audit.

Conducting The Canvass:

The canvass must be public, and date, time and location should be published or posted as any public meeting is.

• It must proceed by opening the returns, auditing the tally books or other records of votes cast, determining the vote for each individual and for and against each ballot issue from each precinct, compiling totals, and declaring or certifying the results.

• The board checks each race in the county by precinct, based on the tally sheets or machine totals tapes. One member reads, while two other members check the printed results.

• The canvass board reviews the poll books and compares the number of ballots cast in a precinct, according to tabulator reports (or tally books if hand counting), to how many ballots the poll book says should have been cast.


If during a canvass the canvass board finds an error in precinct or precincts, the board has the right to petition for a recount in the precinct or precincts, or for an inspection of ballots.

• The EA prepares and files the canvass report.

• The canvass report contains:

• The total number of voters voting in each precinct or district.

• The name of each individual receiving votes and the number and title of each ballot issue.

• The number of votes received for each candidate and the number of votes for an against each ballot issue.

• The canvass report is generated from results entered by each county in the Electronic Statewide Election Reporting System (eSERS).

• If applicable, write-in votes for an individual shall be entered in the report in the same place as the votes for other individuals for the same office but shall be identified as write-in votes

This is a lot of information.  Decide for yourself, is it ok for our Clerk and Recorder to seem so out of her depth in the job?  What do we do about it? Seriously, she hasn't handled even ONE election without some kind of problem.  How would that go where you work after working there for a year?

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