President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign and three Republican groups have filed a lawsuit against Montana Gov. Steve Bullock over the decision by Bullock to expand mail-in voting ahead of the November election, and labeled the Democrat's directive as a "brazen power grab."
The suit was filed on Sept. 2 in U.S. District Court in Helena, and the complaint identifies the plaintiffs as Donald J. Trump for President Inc., the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and the Montana Republican State Central Committee.
The complaint argues that the directive, which gives counties the discretion to expand access to voting by mail and early voting, amounts to an attempt by Bullock to increase his chances of winning a U.S. Senate seat in a tight race.
Bullock dismissed the allegations as baseless.
"Montana has a strong history of voting by mail and it is and has always been safe and secure. This lawsuit is clearly a political stunt," Bullock said in a statement.
"A bipartisan group of Montana election officials, the vast majority of which are Republican, requested this change because the health and safety of our election judges and voters are on the line."
“Locally elected officials best understand the voting needs of their communities, and taking this action now ensures they will have the time to make the right decisions for their localities. With this approach we can protect that fundamental right to vote, while easing crowding and pressure on voting on Election Day,” he said in the statement.
The legal challenge comes amid repeated allegations by Trump and others that voting by mail carries a greater risk of election fraud. Opponents of this view frequently point to a lack of evidence about fraud on a large scale.
In the broader debate about election security, which includes discussions around mail-in balloting, Republicans have tended to argue that casting a vote is a privilege of citizenship that should be safeguarded with secure processes and restrictions, and that lowering requirements opens the process up to fraud and abuse.
Democrats tend to hold the view that voting is a right and that barriers to casting a ballot should be as low as possible.