MTPR

SB-305

Voting booths at the Missoula Library.
Josh Burnham

What’s known as the mail-in ballot bill, to give counties the option of running the upcoming special election without physical polling places, is now dead after a vote today in the state House of Representatives.

Supporters of Senate Bill 305 tried to blast the legislation onto the House floor after it failed to move out of committee earlier this week.

Montana Capitol in Helena.
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.

Carole Mackin, a taxpayer from Helena, is escorted out of a hearing room at the Montana Capitol by a sergeant-at-arms Thursday, March 23 after she refused to stop her testimony in support of Senate Bill 305, which would allow mail ballot elections.
Freddy Monares - UM Legislative News Service

A bill intended to save counties hundreds of thousands of dollars in the upcoming special election for Montana's vacant U.S. House seat brought heated testimony and debate Thursday in the Capitol.

Senate Bill 305 would allow counties the option of running the May 25 election entirely through mail-in-ballots. Great Falls Republican Senator Steve Fitzpatrick introduced his bill to the House Judiciary Committee:

Voters in Clinton, MT cast ballots during the 2016 elections.
Rebekah Welch

A bill designed to save county governments half a million dollars or more is facing a time crunch in the state legislature. It would allow them to conduct mail-in only balloting. If it’s going to have any impact on how voters select the state’s next U.S. congressman, it must pass out of what one lawmaker is calling a kill committee.

Election sign in a Montana polling place
Josh Burnham

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.

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