Big Sky Roundup

Stakeholders work to spread news about new voter registration deadline

By: - May 31, 2022 7:57 am

Voting illustration (Illustration by Getty Images).

Montanans must now register to vote for the June primaries by 12 p.m. on June 6, the day before the primary, following a Supreme Court ruling that struck down a challenge to a law ending Election-Day voter registration.

Efforts to spread the news about the new deadline are underway.

“The Secretary of State’s Office has worked with state and local election officials, including providing election administrators with certification training,” said Richie Melby, a spokesperson for the Secretary of State’s office “We have also provided public outreach and voter education, including: social media campaigns, enhancing the website (see below), airing public service announcements, sending postcards to registered voters, creating new forms and posters, updating training materials, and much more, with more still to come leading up to Election Day.”

At Western Native Voice, a nonpartisan organization that advocates for Native rights in Montana, hiring has begun to get the word out in rural and reservation communities, which the group says are disproportionately impacted by ending Election-Day registration.

“We are hiring organizers on all reservations and in Billings and Great Falls. We also have our Billings staff doing registration around the state,” said Keaton Sunchild, the group’s political director.  

“From the very beginning, we thought that ending Election-Day voter registration would disproportionately affect rural and reservation voter turnout. Nothing we have seen has changed our minds on that,” he said. “The biggest challenge is trying to reeducate a community that just got a good grasp on the election calendar and how important it is to vote.”

Regina Plettenberg, Ravalli County clerk and recorder, said her office has been trying to communicate directly with voters about the change. 

“We have been writing articles and putting notices in our newspaper,” she said. 

While she said she expects to have to turn away some voters on Election Day, she hopes it won’t be too bad.

“Luckily, with this being a non-presidential primary, there won’t be quite the normal turnout, so I think that will help, but there is always going to be those folks that aren’t aware,” she said.

Here is a list of online resources provided by the state:

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Keith Schubert
Keith Schubert

Keith Schubert was born and raised in Wisconsin and graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2019. He has worked at the St.Paul Pioneer Press, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and most recently, the Asbury Park Press, covering everything from local craft fairs to crime and courts to municipal government to the Minnesota state legislature. In his free time, he enjoys cheering on Wisconsin sports teams and exploring small businesses. Keith is no longer a reporter with the Daily Montanan.