Montana’s elections can sometimes get nasty, but never as much so as when incumbents are trying to deceive the voters about their voting record. This has proven to be the case in the race between the conservative candidate, Theresa Manzella, and leftist Solutions Caucus member, Nancy Ballance. Both are competing for Senate District 44 in the Republican primary, although their voting records couldn’t be more different. The Solutions Caucus, of which Ballance is a part, has been working with Democrat grassroots activists to run Democrats and leftists in various Republican primaries around the state.
After first attacking her for wanting to get her nails done during the coronavirus panic, Manzella’s opponents have been taking fraudulent “scorecards” door-to-door in the attempt to convince voters that Manzella, and not Ballance, leans left. It’s a hard task indeed, given the factual inaccuracy of it. But Ballance seems intent on getting that message across, even if manufacturing a scorecard is required to do so.
In a mailer sent out to SD44 voters, Ballance provided the fabricated scorecard with an “F” across the front. No doubt, this was Ballance’s vindictive way of punishing the impartial computer-generated loyalty scorecard organization, Legistats, and all those who, like Manzella, got an A in party loyalty.
Found online, the resource gives scores for party loyalty based upon votes cast by legislators on partisan bills. Bills that have widespread bipartisan support, like procedural votes or non-controversial legislation with little disagreement between the parties, are not factored into the scoring. An ingenious computer algorithm, created by Trevis, hands out automatic scores based upon the legislator’s voting record.
In the Legistats system, the number of times a legislator crosses the majority position of the party line decreases their party loyalty score. This circumvents moderate legislators being able to disingenuously brag about their voting record with party leadership when the bulk of those bills received a majority approval in the Montana House or Senate anyway. However, Legistats takes into account votes that matter the most – when Democrats and Republicans are fiercely divided and a straying party member can tip the balance of power to the minority party.
Ballance, in contrast to Manzella, received an F in party loyalty from the impartial score aggregator. She crossed over to vote with Democrats against Republicans a total of 219 times and had the tenth worst score for cross-over voting in the Montana House.
In contrast to the Legistats scorecard, which has been around for several years and is a trusted, well-established, and impartial score-aggregator, Ballance’s “F” score for Manzella appears manufactured by her campaign. Voters, if they are ill-informed, may consider it a real score issued by a real organization.
Knowledge is power in a campaign, and Montana voters have the duty to know where their candidates stand on issues. For more information on real party loyalty scoring, click here.