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Absentee ballots mailed out today

Absentee ballots mailed out today

  • Updated

HELENA — More than 140,000 absentee ballots for the Nov. 2 general election will be in the mail today, as Montanans start early voting this week.

Yet while today is when county election officials mail out the vast majority of absentee ballots to those who’ve requested one, it’s not the end of such mailings, which occur right up to Nov. 1, the Monday before Election Day.

Today also is the final day for so-called “regular” voter registration, which enables you to go to the polls to vote on Election Day or request an absentee ballot after today.

But it’s not the final day that you can register to vote. That’s allowed right up to 8 p.m. on Election Day. After today, however, you have to do it in person, at the election office — and then get a ballot.

 

Right up til Election Day

 

Confused? Don’t be. For while the permutations of voting, registering to vote and absentee voting are many in Montana, the easiest thing to remember is this: If you want to vote in this general election, you can register and vote — right up to and including Election Day.

Here’s a quick look at how it works, as of today:

• If you’ve already registered to vote and have asked for an absentee ballot, your ballot will be mailed today. You can return your completed absentee ballot to your local county election office by mail or in person, or in person at polling places on Election Day. To be counted, a ballot must be received by an election office or polling place by 8 p.m. on Nov. 2.

• To vote at your local precinct on Election Day, you must be registered no later than 5 p.m. today. If you’re not already registered, you can do so in person today at county election offices or by mail, but the mailed registration must be postmarked by today.

 

Voting absentee

 

Those who register by today and who wish to vote absentee have until noon, Nov. 1 (the Monday before Election Day), to ask for an absentee ballot to be mailed to them. It must be returned by 8 p.m. on Nov. 2.

• If you don’t register to vote by 5 p.m. today, you can still register in person at county election offices, up to and including Election Day. You’ll receive an absentee ballot when you register. It can be filled out on the spot and turned in, or you can take it with you and return it later, either in person or by mail.

Today, county election officials statewide will mail about 140,800 absentee ballots, or nearly 22 percent of all registered voters.

The mailing includes 40,000 in Yellowstone County; 22,000 in Cascade County; 17,000 in Gallatin County; 15,000 in Missoula County, 10,000 in Flathead County; 7,500 in Lewis and Clark County; 4,500 in Ravalli County and 3,300 in Butte-Silver Bow.

The surge in early, absentee voting has changed how candidates campaign in Montana, as they must attempt to reach voters not only in the weeks before Election Day, but also in the days before early voting begins.

“It’s a huge deal; it changes the whole campaign,” said Bowen Greenwood, executive director for the state Republican Party. “You have to start your mailing earlier; you have to target your mailing.”

Candidates going door-to-door can save time by checking to see which residents have obtained absentee votes and voted early, he said.

Martin Kidston, spokesman for the state Democratic Party, said its candidates have been working hard and early to reach all voters, but that early voting certainly alters the party’s campaign and get-out-the-vote strategies.

“It means building momentum early and carrying it longer,” he said. “But with our strong field of candidates and our clear message, we believe we’ll see the results no matter how or when Montanans cast their vote.”

HELENA — More than 140,000 absentee ballots for the Nov. 2 general election will be in the mail today, as Montanans start early voting this week.

Yet while today is when county election officials mail out the vast majority of absentee ballots to those who’ve requested one, it’s not the end of such mailings, which occur right up to Nov. 1, the Monday before Election Day.

Today also is the final day for so-called “regular” voter registration, which enables you to go to the polls to vote on Election Day or request an absentee ballot after today.

But it’s not the final day that you can register to vote. That’s allowed right up to 8 p.m. on Election Day. After today, however, you have to do it in person, at the election office — and then get a ballot.

Confused? Don’t be. For while the permutations of voting, registering to vote and absentee voting are many in Montana, the easiest thing to remember is this: If you want to vote in this general election, you can register and vote — right up to and including Election Day.

Here’s a quick look at how it works, as of today:

n If you’ve already registered to vote and have asked for an absentee ballot, your ballot will be mailed today. You can return your completed absentee ballot to your local county election office by mail or in person, or in person at polling places on Election Day. To be counted, a ballot must be received by an election office or polling place by 8 p.m. on Nov. 2.

n To vote at your local precinct on Election Day, you must be registered no later than 5 p.m. today. If you’re not already registered, you can do so in person today at county election offices or by mail, but the mailed registration must be postmarked by today.

Those who register by today and who wish to vote absentee have until noon, Nov. 1 (the Monday before Election Day), to ask for an absentee ballot to be mailed to them. It must be returned by 8 p.m. on Nov. 2.

n If you don’t register to vote by 5 p.m. today, you can still register in person at county election offices, up to and including Election Day. You’ll receive an absentee ballot when you register. It can be filled out on the spot and turned in, or you can take it with you and return it later, either in person or by mail.

Today, county election officials statewide will mail about 140,800 absentee ballots, or nearly 22 percent of all registered voters.

The mailing includes 40,000 in Yellowstone County; 22,000 in Cascade County; 17,000 in Gallatin County; 15,000 in Missoula County, 10,000 in Flathead County; 7,500 in Lewis and Clark County; 4,500 in Ravalli County and 3,300 in Butte-Silver Bow.

The surge in early, absentee voting has changed how candidates campaign in Montana, as they must attempt to reach voters not only in the weeks before Election Day, but also in the days before early voting begins.

“It’s a huge deal; it changes the whole campaign,” said Bowen Greenwood, executive director for the state Republican Party. “You have to start your mailing earlier; you have to target your mailing.”

Candidates going door-to-door can save time by checking to see which residents have obtained absentee votes and voted early, he said.

Martin Kidston, spokesman for the state Democratic Party, said its candidates have been working hard and early to reach all voters, but that early voting certainly alters the party’s campaign and get-out-the-vote strategies.

“It means building momentum early and carrying it longer,” he said. “But with our strong field of candidates and our clear message, we believe we’ll see the results no matter how or when Montanans cast their vote.”

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