By Griffen Smith Community News Service, UM School of Journalism
Hundreds of thousands of ballots were mailed Oct. 9 to registered Montana voters in 45 counties doing mail-in voting. Although most ballots should safely reach voters at their homes, it’s possible some may be late or missing.
According to the Helena Independent Record in May, more than 85% of registered voters successfully received ballots during the June 2 primary, but some voters did not receive a ballot due to an address change or a possible error by the U.S. Postal Service.
For the general election, multiple election administrators said a person’s ballot should take a couple days to mail to an address, especially in the case of rural Montanans and voters on reservations. They added that if a registered voter does not see a ballot by Thursday, Oct. 15, then voters need to get in touch with their election office.
Bret Rutherford, the election administrator of Yellowstone County, said this will be a rare occurrence in the general election but added there are ways voters can still get a ballot.
“The best resource people can use right off the bat is the My Voter Page app on all election administrator websites,” said Rutherford. “You can click on there and see if your address is correct, or if you are registered at all.”
You can find that at https://app.mt.gov/voterinfo/.
Potential voters who did not register or change their address can change it on the My Voter page and mail in a new voter registration packet to the election office. There will be a waiting period in which the office will send a new ballot to the person.
For the 11 counties holding in-person elections, the system will operate as normal. Rana Wichman, the election administrator of Fergus County, said while people are voting in person, absentee ballots are also being sent to voters.
If voters request an absentee ballot, and do not receive it, Wichman said, they can go to their local election office and request the ballot in person. Voters in all-mail election counties can also request ballots in person at their local election office.
Ballots are due in all counties by 8 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 3.