State Administration and Veterans' Affairs Interim Committee

SAVA Committee Views Suicide Prevention Video, Receives Election Information, and Revises Work Plan

Committee: State Administration and Veterans' Affairs Interim Committee
Author: Sheri Scurr
Posted on September 20, 2017

Image of the statue on the top of the Montana State Capitol dome

At its September 14 meeting, the State Administration and Veterans’ Affairs Interim Committee viewed a powerful Montana National Guard video featuring the family members of two National Guard soldiers who committed suicide. In the video, the family members talk about how the suicide of their loved one affected them and they make an impassioned plea for any soldier who may be feeling suicidal to ask for help. The video presentation concluded a morning of informational briefings on veteran suicide prevention as well as the challenges veterans face when forced to travel long distances to see health care providers.

The Secretary of State’s chief of staff, Christi Jacobsen, read a letter from Secretary Stapleton responding to Sen. Malek’s (D-Missoula) request for more information related to his statements in July about illegally voted ballots in the May special election.  

Local election administrators briefed the committee on how absentee and mail-in ballots are processed, how election judges are trained, and on the urgent need to replace aging AutoMark voting systems used by disabled electors to cast their ballots.

During its afternoon session, the committee received a demonstration on how the statewide voter registration database is maintained. The committee was informed that although the voter information requested by President Trump’s Advisory Commission on Election Integrity was not initially provided, the voter information is available to the public for purchase and was recently purchased by the President’s commission. The public voter information file does not include social security numbers or phone numbers, but does include voter names, addresses, birth dates, and history of election participation.

During its work session, the committee revised and adopted a work plan for the interim.  The committee’s priority study topics are:

  • Replacement of aging voting systems, especially the AutoMark system, and whether federal Common Access Cards should be used in Montana for overseas and military voters.
  • Public employee pension plan funding and investments.

Other study topics include:

  • Veteran benefit claims and health care access.
  • State employee pay plan disparities.
  • State disaster and emergency plans and reliance on local responder capabilities.

The committee chose not to further examine special district election laws or statutes concerning the cancellation of county and municipal primary elections.  Also, campaign contributions will not be on the committee’s agenda until the related court case pending in the 9th Circuit is decided. 

For more information on the committee’s activities, visit the committee’s website at, or contact Sheri Scurr, committee staff, at (405) 444-3596 or