Missoula Elections Office Expecting Polling Places, Ballots to Remain the Same
While the state legislature and federal courts toss and turn over whether or not to have polling places for the upcoming special election and which names should be on the ballot, Missoula County Elections Coordinator Rebecca Connors has to make tough decisions on how the election will proceed in less than seven weeks. With all the uncertainty in the air, Connors says the plan at this point is to go with the ballots as they are, and to plan on polling places being open.
"We're feeling a little bit like a political football, but we are rolling with the punches," Connors said. "We received notification over the weekend that whether its mail or polling place election, we are still moving forward with a polling place election, if it ends up being a mail-in ballot election we can adapt to that, if it is at a certain point, but we're just kind of in flux right now."
Governor Steve Bullock recently added language to a bill that would give counties a choice on whether or not to have their polling places closed this election. Connors says, if given the choice, Missoula County would choose to have mail-in ballots only, however, that legislative football can only be tossed for so long, before the clock runs out.
"We need to know sometime the week of the 17th," Connors said. "It depends on a county by county level That week of the 17th is when we are composing our mailing list for absentee voters and so we need to be able to know at that point whether its a poll or mail ballot election."
Republicans, who currently control both the Montana House and Senate, have the power to decide when bills come up for a hearing. Many expect that house and senate leaders will simply delay a vote on the issue until after next week, at which point the Governor’s attempt at changing the election process will die as elections offices across the state run out of time to change things.