Montana Public Radio

Albert Olszewski

For the first time, almost every county in Montana is using all-mail in ballots this election season. Voters can still drop off their ballots in person if they want. But experts say mailing ballots is the best way to make the election accessible during the pandemic. This new system is bringing with it all kinds of uncertainties about logistics, reliability and the timeframe of the results. Still, election officials are trying to figure out how to make it work for everybody.

This is Shared State, a podcast about what's driving Montana's 2020 elections and where the outcomes could lead us. This week, "Equality of Opportunity."

A 2020 Montana primary absentee ballot
Nicky Ouellet / Yellowstone Public Radio

A Montana judge issued a ruling Tuesday that blocks the state from enforcing a voter-approved law restricting the collection of absentee ballots during elections.

Attack Ads, Voter Turnout And The Republican Party's Future

May 29, 2020

There's still time to get your ballot in before Tuesday's primary, but you'll need to deliver it in person. Voter turnout could be heading to a new record for a primary. New ads in the Senate and gubernatorial races follow political playbooks. Democrats seek to increase Native American participation. And some key primary races could set the future direction of the state Republican Party.

Listen now on Campaign Beat, with Sally Mauk, Rob Saldin and Holly Michels.


Heading into this election cycle, Republicans control both chambers of Montana’s Legislature. If they keep those majorities and win the governor's office, it'll be the first time since 2004 the GOP could control both those branches of the Montana state government. Democrats, meanwhile, are hoping to keep their decade-and-a-half hold on the executive.

With incumbent Gov. Steve Bullock termed out, two Democrats, three Republicans, a Libertarian and a Green Party candidate are vying to become Montana’s next chief executive.

Campaign Beat: Big Money Is Pouring In To Montana's Elections

May 22, 2020

Outside PAC money is pouring into Montana's races for Senate and governor - one indication of how competitive those races are. But money isn't the only factor, which gives some underdogs hope. Gubernatorial candidate Mike Cooney gets criticized for participating in a campaign call in his state office. Absentee ballot collection remains a contentious issue. And Montanans likely aren't as leery as the president when it comes to voting by mail.

Listen now on Campaign Beat, with Sally Mauk, Rob Saldin and Holly Michels.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney talk with reporters in the State Capitol about state budget cuts, July 25, 2018.
Corin Cates-Carney / Montana Public Radio

The battle against COVID-19 is helping shape the race for governor, giving Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney an unexpected boost as he faces Whitney Williams, a well-financed Democratic primary opponent with an extensive political network.

The pandemic has also upended the Republican race between Attorney General Tim Fox, U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte and state Sen. Al Olszewski ahead of what is now an all-mail June 2nd primary election

“With this coronavirus turning the campaign upside down, there is not one single candidate that understands what’s the best way to campaign in this environment," Olszewski said. "Nobody."

State Sen. and gubernatorial candidate Albert Olszewski.
Montana Legislature

Montana Public Radio is gathering information on all statewide primary candidates to publish as a resource for our audience. We asked all the statewide candidates to respond to the following questions via email, limiting their answers to 300 words per question. These are their unedited responses.

Gubernatorial candidate Al Olszewski:

A 2020 Montana primary absentee ballot
Nicky Ouellet / Yellowstone Public Radio

With Montana's primary elections less than two weeks away, a judge temporarily blocked a voter-approved law that restricts collection of absentee ballots.

A new poll indicates Montana's U.S. Senate race will be a dogfight. The race for governor gets testy. And two new ads focus on abortion as a major campaign issue.

Listen now on Campaign Beat, with Sally Mauk, Rob Saldin and Holly Michels.

Mail ballots for Montana's June 2 primary go out this Friday. This weekend, Democrats and Republicans vying for Montana's governor's seat faced off in a virtual debate hosted by the Montana Broadcasters Association. Corin Cates-Carney, with the help of Nicky Ouellet, recap the gubernatorial debate.

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