After John Lott’s story on alleged election fraud in Missoula County, one of the points of contention between Representative Brad Tschida through local attorney Quentin Rhoades was the video of the actual vote counting on election night, which was live-streamed on You Tube.

Rhoades referenced the letter from Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen, whose first bullet point was ‘enhancing election transparency through video requirements and retention.’

“The very first bullet point says, ‘protect the integrity of elections by enhancing election transparency through video requirements and retention’,” said Rhoades. “One of the most suspicious things about our recent investigation into the Missoula County 2020 general election video disappeared.”

KGVO spoke to Elections Administrator Bradley Seaman about that video, which he said was ‘live streamed’.

“We piloted a great program where we live streamed our processes at the counting center,” said Seaman. “The way a live stream works is that it is broadcast live on the internet. Anybody is welcome to tune in and record that live stream or watch that live stream process and we covered it in quite a few of our press releases before the election. During the records request from Mr. Rhoades, we did mention that we had live streamed the whole process. Mr. Rhodes had asked for a copy of that live stream video, we sent them the link, because I thought that might produce the video. But the way that a YouTube Live Stream works is it's live. It's a live stream. It's only live when it's running.”

Rhoades told KGVO that he understood that all video must be retained for at least 60 days.

“That's important because all the questions we have about how these votes were counted can be easily resolved if there was video, but the county disposed of, or made unavailable that video in less than 60 days in violation of its own 60 days records retention requirements,” responded Rhoades. “And so we brought that issue up with the Secretary of State when we met with her.”

Seaman said Rhoades misunderstood the time factor under which the videos must be retained.

“They then later asked for a recording from our security footage, which was outside of the standard retention policies from the Secretary of State's office,” said Seaman. “This is where they got a little bit confused about up to 60 days versus required to keep for 60 days and 30 days is the retention policy from the state. So when they had requested that video, it is was outside the standard retention policy, and that video had been deleted from our site, and the YouTube video link is just a link to a video that would be live streamed during the point where it's being broadcast.”

Rhoades said the video evidence should be made available.

“I was perplexed when I read in your (KGVO’s) article that Bradley Seaman was somehow vindicated by the first bullet point,” said Rhoades. “Actually the first bullet point of her letter is the specific remedy to the mistakes that the Missoula County Elections Office made by not retaining the video. It seems to us that it's a warning to everybody that if you have video of elections that you're going to hang on to it.”

Rhoades continued.

“But he doesn't have the video, and he told me he doesn't have the video,” said Rhoades. “And he told me in writing, so I have an email exchange with him. I asked for the video of the counting of the votes in Missoula County. I asked for him for that video 42 days after the election. The county has a specific written retention policy of 60 days for video. And I have an email exchange with him where he says that video cannot be recovered. It's not available right now, despite that quote that you just read. That video is gone.”

KGVO asked Seaman if he in any way deliberately kept the video from Representative Tschida and attorney Quentin Rhoades.

“No, absolutely not, Peter,” said Seaman. We had even observers in person who were there to watch the process. None of them had any concerns that were brought to our attention. We also live streamed it because we're an open book, we want everybody to watch this process, be part of this process and feel confident in it, and so that's why we did that in the first place. We wanted people to know that our process is open to the public. If you're concerned about COVID-19 and don't want to come in person, we're going to utilize this fantastic new feature, (live streaming) and it's worth pointing out that this is one of the things that the Secretary of State put as the first bullet point in her open letter to the state is that this policy may be a great policy for all counties to adopt.”

Here is the official retention policy:

5. Retention of Video Records
Missoula County will avoid creating unnecessary video records, retaining records not needed for the fulfillment of the mission of Missoula County, and engaging in practices that could place personally identifiable information on public view.
Recorded digital video images will be stored on hardware in a secure area of Missoula County. Recordings will be retained for no more than 60 days in accordance with Missoula County’s records retention schedule, unless required as part of an ongoing investigation or litigation.

 

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