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Ballots have been out in Montana since mid-October, and Tuesday, the Secretary of State’s office reported just over 45 percent of absentee ballots it mailed were returned already.
For voters who have yet to register or vote in this year’s midterm election, here’s how, according to the Secretary of State:
Who’s eligible to vote in Montana?
Registered voters who are 18 (or will be by Election Day), U.S. citizens and residents of Montana for at least 30 days.
Who can’t vote in Montana?
Convicted felons serving a sentence in a penal institution or those who have been judged in court to be “of unsound mind” as listed on the Secretary of State’s website.
How do I register to vote?
Complete a registration application, available online or at your county’s Elections Office, and submit it between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to your county’s Election Office. This close to Election Day, hand deliver it in order to vote by Tuesday. See more information here.
Identification options for registering to vote in Montana include a Montana driver’s license or ID card, the last four digits of your social security number, Military ID card, Tribal photo ID card, a U.S. passport, or a concealed carry permit, among other options that are listed online.
You will need to provide the residential address you maintain in the county you are applying in. Once you’re registered, you will receive a voter confirmation card from the county Elections Office that contains the precinct and polling place for your residence.
If you move to another county in Montana, you must register again in that county.
If you are a student going to college in another county, you can:
- choose to vote in your county of permanent residence, either by going to the polls or by absentee ballot, OR
- register in the county where you are going to college and vote in that county.
- If you are an out-of-state student going to school in Montana, you can:
choose to become a resident of Montana if you have resided in Montana for at least 30 days, and vote in the county where you are going to school, OR
- vote in your original state, but you cannot vote in both states.
- Be sure to keep your voter registration current by filling out a new form if your name or address changes. You can check to see the most current information on file at My Voter Page.
You can register to vote on Election Day in Montana, after a judge’s order struck down laws passed last year that would have made the deadline the day before. The ruling also found that college issued -IDs can be used as primary identification for voting.
The Secretary of State’s office included outdated Election Day registration information in this year’s voter information pamphlet as they were printed prior to the judge’s ruling in Yellowstone County.
Voting at the polls
Your voter precinct should be listed on your voter registration card and is also available online or by calling your local Elections Office.
At the polling location, you will be required to present identification showing your name: a Montana driver’s license, Montana state identification card, military identification card, tribal photo identification card, U.S. passport or a Montana concealed carry permit.
If you do not have the above forms of identification, you can provide a current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, government check or other government document that shows your name and current address and photo identification that shows the elector’s name, including, but not limited to, a school district or postsecondary education photo identification.
If you do not have any of the items listed above, you can still vote by requesting and filling out a “Polling Place Elector ID” form.
Or you can vote a provisional ballot and provide one of the items listed above. Your provisional ballot will be counted if you provide one of the items on the list to the county Elections Office by 5 p.m. the day after the election, or mail the item to the county Elections Office postmarked by the day after the election.
Each polling place has a voting machine accessible to people with disabilities that allows them to vote independently and privately. If you wish to use a voting machine, either an AutoMARK™ or ExpressVote®, let the election judge know.
You do not have to vote on every issue on the ballot. However, if you vote more than once on a candidate or on an issue with only one choice allowable, the vote(s) in that race will not be counted.
If you damage a ballot, make a mistake, or change your mind, take the ballot back to the election judge and request a new one. Do not try to erase or cross out as it may cause a vote to not be counted.
Applications for voting absentee, which can be found online, must be received by the county Elections Office by noon the day before the election. If you drop off the application you will be able to pick up the absentee ballot at the same time, once ballots are available.
Make sure to sign the affirmation on the signature envelope before dropping it off. Note: The person to whom the ballot was issued must be the person signing the return envelope.
You can track your absentee ballot for federal/state elections at My Voter Page.
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