Tuesday is a day Montana elections officials have dreaded. Two major election cycles coincide and some voter confusion is certain.
On Tuesday, school districts across Montana will hold their annual trustee and levy elections. For voters who received school election mail ballots, 8 p.m. Tuesday is the deadline for having them returned to their county elections office.
Tuesday is also the day that tens of thousands of Montana voters will receive their June 3 Primary Election ballots in the mail. County elections officials will mail the ballots Monday, 30 days before the election. In Yellowstone County alone, about 45,000 primary absentee ballots are being mailed out Monday.
Yes, the deadline for school election voting is the day many of us will find primary ballots in the mailbox.
The school elections are important for choosing leaders and providing resources for local schools. But generally, there are just one or a few questions on school ballots.
The primary ballots will be much longer. Voters will be selecting party nominees for U.S. Senate, U.S. House, state Senate and House, and several county offices, such as sheriff, county attorney, justice of the peace and county commissioner. Additionally, voters will pass judgment on nonpartisan candidates for Montana Supreme Court justices and District Court judges.
Along with choosing candidates, voters will be asked to decide whether to form citizen commissions to review their local form of government. Residents of Yellowstone County will be asked if they want to study county government. Residents of Billings and Laurel also will be asked if they want to study their city government.
Some offices have candidates from just one political party, so the primary vote will be the final decision.
This is an important election coming up on June 3. To help inform voters about their choices, The Gazette asked all candidates for U.S. House and Senate to provide brief answers to a series of questions. The answers to the first question are presented today. Additional candidate responses will be printed on Wednesdays for the next three weeks.
Absent balloting has become popular in Montana. At the last Primary Election in 2012, 61 percent of Montana voters used absentee ballots, according to Secretary of State Linda McCulloch. In Yellowstone County, 96 percent of ballots were voted absentee.
Return school election ballots on or before Tuesday.
Return primary ballots on or before June 3, or vote at the polls on Election Day.