Montana Public Radio


Voters in Flathead County voters wait to cast their ballots in person or to get a replacement ballot, November 02, 2020.
Aaron Bolton / Montana Public Radio

Voters could face long lines on Election Day in some Montana counties.

At the Flathead County elections office Monday, Election Manager Monica Eisenzimer said voters had been waiting in a line stretching around the building’s second floor and across a skyway all day.

Campaign Beat: Record Turnout, Tightening Races And Dirty Tricks

Oct 30, 2020

Voter turnout in Montana could break an all-time record. A new poll shows the governor's race tightening. New ads in that race look to make closing arguments. Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie is the victim of a Cooney campaign dirty trick. Senator Daines brings Cruz, Rubio and Don Jr. into the state for some last minute campaigning. And we may not know who won the top races until the day after election night.

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

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

The National Association of Attorneys general, including Montana’s Attorney General Tim Fox, issued a statement earlier this week urging people to make a plan for voting. The statement was also a reminder that voter fraud, suppression and intimidation are illegal.

A voter drops off a mail-in ballot with poll worker Vance Bennett at the Missoula Elections Center, October 21, 2020.
Megan Myscofski / Montana Public Radio

The coronavirus pandemic means poll workers’ jobs look a little different this year, as 45 of Montana’s 56 counties switch to all-mail elections, and polling sites adapt to social distancing.

Voting booths at the Missoula Library.
Josh Burnham / Montana Public Radio

An audit of the Secretary of State’s office suggests improvements can be made to secure the state’s elections, including hiring a security manager position that’s been vacant for multiple years.

Early voting is underway in Montana. The novel coronavirus pandemic has led most counties to conduct an all-mail ballot election, while others are sticking to a traditional polling place election. YPR News’ Kevin Trevellyan convened a Zoom roundtable of county elections officials to find out how preparations are going and what voters should know as an unusual election season wraps up. The conversation has been edited for clarity.

Montana voters this election will decide whether the state constitution requires some updating. 

Constitutional Revisions 46 and 47 revise constitutional language dealing with signature collection efforts for ballot initiatives.

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

The Blackfeet Nation announced  Wednesday that it settled with Pondera County officials after the county allegedly refused to open a satellite voting office on the reservation.

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."

Counties are sending mail and absentee ballots to Montanans on Oct. 9.

Ballots can be mailed or returned in person to county elections offices. Many counties that chose to conduct an all mail ballot election also offer alternative drop off locations.

County officials must have ballots in hand by 8 P.M. on Election Day, Nov. 3. Voters are advised to get their ballots in the mail at least one week before that date or else drop them off in person.