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Flyer encouraging absentee voting sparks confusion in Yellowstone County

Flyer encouraging absentee voting sparks confusion in Yellowstone County

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A mailer from an advocacy group encouraging Yellowstone County residents to sign up to vote by mail has led to some confusion among county voters.

The mailer, sent by a group called the Patriots Foundation, encourages residents to register for an absentee ballot in preparation for this fall's election season. The problem is that the mailer was sent to residents already registered to vote, said Bret Rutherford, the county's elections administrator. 

"Yellowstone County has been inundated with calls for the last several days and 100% of the fielded calls are from people already set to receive an absentee ballot on Oct. 9," Rutherford said in an email sent out Friday.

The callers have expressed confusion, believing the mailer came from the county elections office and that they've been dropped from the absentee ballot list, Rutherford said. Many callers are asking if they need to sign up again for a mail-in ballot. 

The easiest way for residents to check their voting status is to visit My Voter Page at app.mt.gov/voterinfo, which lists registration and absentee status. The web page can be accessed through most county websites, votinginmontana.com, or sosmt.gov.

For voters unable to use the online app or reach the website on their computer, they can call the Yellowstone County Elections Office at 256-2740.

In Yellowstone County 85% of voters are signed up to receive an absentee ballot. Rutherford said it appeared the Patriots Foundation sent out the mailers using a list of the county's registered voters as opposed to a list of county voters not signed up for absentee ballots. 

"It is legal for groups to do this and in many instances it is helpful," Rutherford said. "Unfortunately, in some situations, the wrong audience is targeted causing confusion."

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The third-party mailer sent out to registered Yellowstone County voters encouraging them to sign up for an absentee ballot.

The third-party mailer sent out to registered Yellowstone County voters encouraging them to sign up for an absentee ballot.

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