What You Need to Know Before the Upcoming General Election
Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - After the COVID pandemic where all elections were mandated by mail, the mid-term election in November returns to the normal routine of citizens casting their votes at their neighborhood polling place, with the option of mailing in an absentee ballot.
KGVO News spoke to Missoula County Elections Administrator Bradley Seaman who provided accurate information on where to vote in the General Election on Tuesday, November 8.
“We're back to the original rules,” began Seaman. “We had some unique things happen in 2020. Being in a pandemic, there was an emergency declaration from the Governor, which changed the way elections functioned for 2020. We are back to the original rules now, so you need to request to have (an absentee) ballot come to you in the mail, if you'd like to receive a ballot in the mail, otherwise a voter is registered to vote at their local polling place.”
Wednesday, October 12 is an important date in the election cycle. Seaman said early voter registration ends on Wednesday.
“Starting on October 12, anybody who comes in to use the late registration period will be able to register, but they must appear in person and they will receive a ballot at the time when they’re registered by Montana law,” he said. “They can take that with them and vote at their convenience. They can put it in the mail, or take it to a polling place on Election Day, but they do have to receive that ballot starting on October 12 if they come in too late to register.”
Seaman said it is possible to request a mail-in ballot up to the day before Election Day, but due to the time it takes for a ballot to be returned to the election center, it is not advisable to wait till the last minute to request a mail-in ballot.
“If we get those forms in and it's there's not enough time to mail your ballot out, have you receive it and vote it and turn it back in, then we're going to call you and let you know. ‘Hey, Peter, we just got your form it does say to send a ballot to number one West Street. But because it's the day before the election, we wanted to call and reach out to you to let you know that it's very unlikely that you'll receive that in time and be able to vote it, so these are the other options that are available to you.”
Seaman said it is the goal of all election administrators to have 100 percent voter turnout, but he knows that is never possible.
“In the elections, we'd love to see 100% voter turnout,” he said. “So we're going to work to help make sure that voters are aware of the election upcoming, have good information from our office by sharing information with people like you, Peter. We're also going to help make sure that voting is an easy experience so that everybody who would like to cast a ballot if they're eligible can vote and make sure that their vote is counted. We're going to shoot for as high as we can get (in voter turnout), and we'll see what that number gets to."
Seaman also reminded KGVO listeners and website readers that same-day voter registration is in effect for this cycle, but he encourages voters not to wait until Election Day, as the Election Center is expecting long lines and wait times.