Montana Public Radio

Dana Corson

Lawmakers Hear Montana Native American Voting Rights Act

Feb 28, 2021

Montana lawmakers heard passionate testimony Friday on a bill seeking to increase Native American voting rights and access to the polls.

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."

Election sign reading 'polling place' on a door at a Missoula polling place.
Josh Burnham / Montana Public Radio

Montana will receive more than $3 million from the federal government to improve state elections. Much of the money will be given to local governments as part of the federal Help America Vote Act.

Voters in Clinton, Montana, cast ballots during the 2016 elections.
Rebekah Welch / UM School of Journalism

The Montana Secretary of State's Office has decided how to distribute $750,000 in federal grant money to upgrade voting equipment across the state's 56 counties.

A statement by Secretary Corey Stapleton Tuesday shows the amount of each sub-grant will range from $3,500 for the smallest counties to nearly $46,000 for Missoula County. The money is matched by an equal amount contributed by the counties.

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana's election administrators are asking lawmakers to allow them to open and begin counting absentee ballots earlier because the number of mailed-in ballots continues to increase.

The Senate has passed a bill that would allow absentee ballots to be opened starting on the Thursday before Election Day and for the counting of absentee ballots to start the Monday before Election Day.

The Capitol dome in Helena, MT.
William Marcus / Montana Public Radio

County election officials are backing a proposal to allow online voter registration in Montana ahead of the 2020 election. However Secretary of State Corey Stapleton is standing against the idea.

Recounts Sought In Montana House District Races

Nov 29, 2018
Polling place sign.
IIP Photo Archive

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Recounts have been requested in two Montana legislative races from the Nov. 6 election.

The Great Falls Tribune reports recount petitions were filed Wednesday with the secretary of state's office by two Democratic candidates challenging results in the House District 22 race in Great Falls and House District 51 race in Billings.

State, County Officials Differ On Montana's Voting Needs

Nov 16, 2018
Voters in Clinton, Montana, cast ballots during the 2016 elections.
Rebekah Welch / UM School of Journalism

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The midterm elections saw a record number of absentee ballots overwhelm voting machines in some Montana counties, found election officials in a dozen smaller counties still hand-counting votes and underscored the need to replace hundreds of aging and broken voting machines for the disabled.

Ex-GOP Leader Awarded $265K Election Print Job

Oct 24, 2018
Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton.
Courtesy Montana Secretary of State.

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana's Republican secretary of state told officials to award an emergency $265,000 contract to a printing company owned by a Republican political consultant and former executive of the state GOP for mailers that would fix mistakes in the state's election guide.