By Joseph T. O’Connor EBS Editor

The 2016 election season has been heating up ever since 17 Republican hopefuls tossed their collective hat into the ring last year … along with six Democrats, including a feisty 75-year-old senator from Vermont, and pretty much anyone else with a notion to be Leader of the Free World.

Since then, it’s gotten downright scalding.

Presidential nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are at each other like alley cats, and the headlines are incessant: Literally, two hours prior to writing this, The New York Times dropped a news bomb on the wire that Trump’s doctor checkup revealed he’s overweight. And everyone’s reported that Clinton had a bad cold.

For national election coverage you can tap into your favorite pundits on nearly any TV channel you find with a remote, read in-depth analysis in newspapers around the globe, and find out what The Donald had for breakfast yesterday or if The Hillary decided to send an email to her daughter.

But many of us need to know the basics before we can even decipher the nonstop coverage and decide whom to vote for. EBS wanted to break down the election season from A to Zinke. Here’s the first installment:

Election Day: The first Tuesday immediately following the first Monday in November. This year it’s on Nov. 8, interestingly the latest it can ever occur.

Registering in Montana: Montanans must register to vote by 5 p.m. at least 30 days before Election Day (that’s Oct. 10, folks). Late registration runs from 29 days before Election Day until 8 p.m. on Election Day.

How to register: Visit and fill out the registration form then drop it at the election office or mail it to your county’s election administrator. Alternately, visit your county election office any weekday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and fill out a registration form. Bring a Montana ID or drivers license or social security number. You must also provide a physical address located within the county you’re registering in.

Who can vote in Montana? Anyone 18 years or older who is registered to vote in Montana, is a U.S. citizen, and who has lived in the state for at least 30 days.

However, even if you meet the above requirements, you cannot vote in Montana if you’re a convicted felon serving a sentence in a penal institution, or if a court of law found you to be of unsound mind.

What about absentee ballots? Fill out an application for absentee ballot online at, then print and mail or drop it off at your county election office. Applications must be received by noon on the day before the election. You can pick up the absentee ballot when you drop off the application or it will be mailed to the address you filled out on the application. Absentee ballots must be received at the election office or polling place by 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Bond issues in Gallatin County: There are two pertaining to a plan to build a new Law and Justice Center in Bozeman that proponents say will better protect witnesses and victims from criminals. One is a $68.3 million bond proposed to Gallatin County voters; the other is a proposal to Bozeman city residents to levy up to 18.21 mills each year for up to 20 years, to raise approximately $1,634,500 per year to pay down the debt service on the Gallatin County bond.

State ballot initiatives: The following four initiatives will appear on your ballot. EBS will illustrate how ballot initiatives work in the next edition (Sept. 30):

  1. Ballot Issue #12 – Ensure that crime victims’ rights and interests are respected and protected by law.
  2. Ballot Issue # 13 – Prohibit the use of traps and snares for animals by the public on any public lands within Montana, with certain exceptions.
  3. Ballot Issue #23 – Promote research into developing therapies and cures for brain diseases and injuries.
  4. Ballot Issue # 24 – Expand access to medical marijuana.

Races: Here are the folks you’ll want to pay attention to this election season. EBS will highlight these major office candidates in the next three editions of the paper leading up to Election Day:

Hillary Clinton (Democrat)
Donald Trump (Republican)
Gary Johnson (Libertarian)
Jill Stein (Green)
Darrell Castle (Constitution)
Presidential debate dates: Monday, Sept. 26; Sunday, Oct. 9; Wednesday, Oct. 19

U.S. Representative for Montana
Ryan Zinke (Republican, incumbent)
Denise Juneau (Democrat)

Montana Governor
Steve Bullock (Democrat, incumbent)
Greg Gianforte (Republican)
Gubernatorial debate dates: July 16 (Big Sky Resort), Sept. 19 (Billings), Oct. 8 (Great Falls)

Montana Attorney General
Tim Fox (Republican, incumbent)
Larry Jent (Democrat)

Montana Secretary of State
Corey Stapleton (Republican)
Monica Lindeen (Democrat)
Roger Roots (Libertarian)

Gallatin County Commissioner, District #2
Brian Leland (Democrat)
Joe Skinner (Republican, incumbent)