Montana Public Radio

Regina Plettenberg

Bill to Change Polling Hours Takes Next Step

Mar 12, 2021

HELENA — The 67th Montana Legislature has been marked by a series of bills attempting to change the elections process in Montana.

Some of them, like House Bill 455, didn’t even make it out of committee. That bill, sponsored by Rep. Lola Sheldon-Galloway, R-Great Falls, would have made absentee voting much more difficult. During its only hearing, Rep. Geraldine Custer, R-Forsyth, said the bill was unworkable.

“This is probably the worst bill I’ve seen all session,” Custer said, “and it needs to die.”

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.

Secretary of State Corey Stapleton and county election leaders meeting Tuesday to talk about improvements to the state's mail ballot election system.
Corin Cates-Carney

Montana does not have widespread voter fraud in its elections system.

That’s according to Secretary of State Corey Stapleton, now that he’s reviewed data he requested from Montana’s Clerks and Recorders Association.

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

It’s municipal election day in many communities across Montana. Turnout appears to be better in some places than others.

Local, off-year elections don’t have the sizzle of the big-draw statewide and federal races that draw standing-room-only levels of Montanans to polling stations. But still, Lewis and Clark County Election Supervisor Audrey McCue says local turnout trends for today’s election looks fairly robust.

Voters wait in line outside the satellite polling place in Browning, MT, for the 2017 special election.
Lockley J. Bremner

Montana’s special election results were officially certified this afternoon, and June 21 has been set as the date for Greg Gianforte to be sworn in as Montana’s Congressman.

Before the election there were concerns that counties wouldn’t have the resources they needed to conduct it smoothly. There were few complaints about voting overall, but some voters in Browning had to wait 30 to 60 minutes — sometimes out in the cold rain — before casting their ballots. 

Montana absentee ballot for the 2017 special congressional election.
Eric Whitney / Montana Public Radio

With less than a month left until Montana’s special election to replace former Representative Ryan Zinke, some voters are casting their ballots early.

Gov. Steve Bullock.
Corin Cates-Carney / MTPR

Governor Steve Bullock used his veto pen today to force state lawmakers to reconsider mail-in balloting in the upcoming special election, resurrecting one of the most contentious political topics of the legislative session.

The Montana Capitol
William Marcus / Montana Public Radio

A mail-in ballot bill that could impact how Montanan's select their next congressman, is likely dead after a party line vote Wednesday morning.

Democrats forced a vote on the bill in a House committee hearing, a move that blindsided some Republicans, who criticize the minority party’s tactics.

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

In less than three months, counties across the state will hold a special election to select a replacement for Montana’s now vacant U.S. House Seat.

After Ryan Zinke was confirmed as Interior secretary in the Trump administration Wednesday, Governor Steve Bullock called a special election on May 25 — 85 days away. County election officials expect that election to cost about $2 million, split among Montana’s 56 counties. And most counties haven't planned or budgeted for that.