Corey Stapleton, Montana’s Secretary of State since 2017 and former State Senator, is currently working to prepare Montana for the 2020 election cycle, while also pursuing his own bid for a seat in the US House of Representatives.

KGVO News spoke with Stapleton to learn more about the new Missoula election center, the funding distributed to increase election security, and Stapleton’s 2020 campaign for Congress.

One of the principle duties of the Office of the Secretary of State is overseeing state elections. In anticipation for the 2020 cycle, Stapleton recently visited the new Missoula election center, located off of North Russell Street.

The new election center in Missoula is a single-tenant building and warehouse purchased by Missoula County in 2019 to house elections and voter registration, as well as training for various county departments. Stapleton says that the center has some accessibility issues that will hopefully be resolved before the 2020 election.

Stapleton also talked about the nearly $2 million in federal funding that has been distributed to each county in Montana in order to increase election security. Given that election security is most vulnerable at the local level, Stapleton says, funding is necessary to ensure secure elections in 2020.

“We just received money at the end of December and we turned it around very quickly with the intent of trying to get out nearly two million bucks. Most of that money that we received was sent off to each of the 56 counties. Missoula County gets about $134,000 and some change, and they can use that pretty broadly if it’s related to elections security,” Stapleton stated.

“In today’s day, virtually everything we do is security, whether it’s dealing with voting registration, voting with new equipment, the ability to count votes—almost everything since 2016 regarding elections has turned to security.”

Missoula County received the second-highest amount of funding in Montana for election security. Yellowstone County, which includes Billings, received the most at nearly $177,000.

Stapleton’s office is also focusing on creating new voter registration that will be implemented after the 2020 election; as well as evaluating integrity in mail ballots and establishing harmony with voting practices on Montana’s reservations.

“From the election side, overseeing that, I’m always waking up in the middle of night hoping that we have X, Y, and Z covered, because we want to make sure that Montana is proud of our elections, regardless of the candidates who win,” says Stapleton.

Aside from his duties as Secretary of State, Stapleton is campaigning for a seat in the US House of Representatives. He says that there’s no shortage of need for leadership on any level of government, and he will bring “talent and ability” to an “uncertain world” if elected.

“On the campaign side, [I am] very hopeful that I can radiate as the Montanan in the race—for Montana and from Montana—and someone who has basically done this my whole life. Whether serving in uniform or in Washington, cradle to grave, I’m a patriot.”

Stapleton served in the Navy: he is the only veteran out of 17 elected to statewide office in Montana.