Montana Election Administrators Deal With Ballot Confusion, Missoula Tries New Due By Date Stamp
Ballots are already out for school elections and special districts all over Montana, but by May 2nd, most voters will have yet another ballot to fill out: for the high-profile congressional race to replace Ryan Zinke. In many counties, the ballots don’t have any 'Due by date' stamped on the outside and some elections administrators are worried people may miss the May 2nd deadline for school districts. Ravalli County Election Administrator Regina Plettenberg says her office is fielding around 20 calls a day because people are confused.
"When we mailed out those ballots on the 17th, we got a large number of calls from people wondering why the congressional race was not on that ballot, so we had to explain to people that there would be a second ballot coming out, Plettenberg said. "You know, we were hoping the election date would be a little later so that we would avoid this."
In a surprise to many, Governor Steve Bullock chose the earliest possible date for the congressional election, which is on a Thursday, right before Memorial Day weekend. Somehow, Missoula County saw this coming and did something a little different. Elections coordinator Rebecca Connors says a new 'Due by date' stamp will likely be used in future elections.
"We saw the overlap of the two elections earlier this year and were proactive about it by making sure that the packets were color coded and also had Due By dates printed on outside of the envelope, Connors. So, for instance, the school election or special district election should have come in a packet that will have green print on the front saying 'School Election Due By May 2nd'"
It’s important that people open and read their ballots soon as the two ballots have two different deadlines. School and special district ballots must be returned before 8:00 p.m. on May 2nd. The ballot for the U.S. House Race isn’t due until 8:00 P.M on May 25th.