A Montana elections clerk was captured on video on election night in 2022 as she was shredding a pile of documents that looks exactly like ballots. But don’t worry, says the county! They weren’t real ballots! And you can take their word for it.
The problem that our election officials now have in every state is that most people view them much the same way that we view public health officials after the COVID nonsense. No one believes anything they say, because of their track record of lying to everyone, combined with blazing levels of incompetence.
Now, we’ve seen still images of what happened in Carbon County, Montana on election night, and we’re genuinely not sure what happened. We want to be fair to the county officials there, because maybe it was exactly what they say it was. But there are some weird anomalies that make it look like something improper happened.
Carbon County is a small, rural county in southern Montana. It had a little over 10,000 residents in the latest census. Donald Trump easily won the county with 63% of the vote in 2020.
On the night of the 2022 midterms, Carbon County Elections Administrator Crystal Roascio is shown on a surveillance video running 21 batches of documents through a shredder. County residents Chip and Lisa Bennett obtained the video through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. The Bennetts insist that Roascio is shredding 21 batches of documents, and the still images we’ve seen do show that happening. Roascio is standing partially behind a privacy screen, so it’s hard to see what happened without the full video being public.
The Bennetts handed the video over to the Carbon County Sheriff’s Office. The Sheriff’s Office handed the video off to the Red Lodge Police Department, and they handed the video to Montana’s Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI). The DCI is currently investigating the incident.
Ms. Roascio says that the documents she was shredding on election night were ballots from Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) voters. When those ballots are received, Roascio says they are printed out on standard paper, but the printout includes the person’s name on each ballot. Thus, once the ballots are counted, the clerk’s office shreds them for privacy reasons. UOCAVA votes are not preserved for 22 months under federal election laws, because the voters’ names are printed on them. They’re allowed to shred those on election night after the printouts are counted.
All of that is legal under Montana and federal law. The question is whether that is what actually happened.
People who have seen the video say it doesn’t look like Roascio is running standard, flimsy, 8.5×11 paper through the shredder. It looks like the firmer, thicker paper stock that regular ballots are printed on.
During a meeting with the public where she was trying to explain her actions on election night, Roascio has stated, “It was only like 6 ballots.”
But the Bennetts and others insist that Roascio runs 21 batches of ballots through the shredder on the full video, which is why they turned it over to law enforcement. Remember, Carbon County is a relatively tiny county population-wise. They did only have 6 residents send in UOCAVA votes in the 2022 midterms.
The County Attorney also insists that Roascio’s actions were proper on election night, and she was shredding UOCAVA ballots.
We don’t know the politics of anybody involved in this fiasco. For all we know, the Bennetts might be Democrats and Ms. Roascio is a Republican, and everything happened exactly the way that Roascio says.
But this case, like the 1,400 other cases of individual election fraud that have been successfully prosecuted since the 2020 election (yes, the number really is that high), illustrates much of what’s wrong with our current system and all the machines we use in our elections. Ms. Roascio is by herself running documents through a shredder on election night. Even if it was exactly what she said it was, there’s no accountability or oversight. We have to take her word for it.
We used to count all the paper ballots on election night, with teams of Republican and Democrat volunteers carrying out the task. Everything was above board, and we were able to trust the process. Now we can’t. The public is increasingly shut out of the counting process because of reliance on all types of machines – including paper shredders – and it’s destroying trust in the system.