Comprehensive voting and election information for Montana's 2020 general election
Montana has been conducting elections with mail-in ballots for years. In 2018, over 70% of Montanans casting ballots used absentee ballots sent out in the mail prior to Election Day. Below are answers to some common questions about voting in Montana's 2020 general election.
Can I register to vote on-line? Montana does not permit people to register to vote on-line. Montana requires that voters fill out and sign a paper form to ensure security of our voter registration process. You can download the voter registration form on the Secretary of State's website, print it out, fill it in, and return it to your county election office. The addresses of every county election office are on the back of the registration form. The Secretary of State election webpage is: https://sosmt.gov/elections/
Is Voting using mailed ballots safe? Here are some facts about how Montana election officials in every county follow strict procedures to maintain the integrity of our elections:
- Your mailing envelope has a bar code, which is scanned and noted on your voting record in the Voter Database maintained by the Montana Secretary of State.
- Your signature on the mailing envelope is verified as a match to your signature in this database before your ballot is accepted.
- Accepted ballots are kept in a locked secure storage area as they are received.
- 1-3 business days before election day, elections offices are permitted to begin preparing the ballots for tabulation, after which the ballots are again locked in a secure room.
- Election judges work in teams of two to ensure accuracy and that no ballot is misplaced or mishandled.
- Your identity is kept separate from your ballot.
- Votes are tallied by hand or by machine and all original paper ballots are kept in case the votes need to be recounted.
Suugested calendar of dates for 2020 General Election: montana_10_ways_safe_final.pdf
Information brochure on how Montana protects your vote: montana_10_ways_safe_final.pdf
More detailed information can be found in the League's 2018 Election Security Report:
How do I vote using a mail/absentee ballot? Be sure to follow the instructions sent with your ballot. Put your voted ballot in the secrecy envelope and seal it, then put the secrecy envelope into your return envelope and sign the outside of the return envelope. Now your ballot is ready to return! Your ballot must be in the envelopes provided whether you are mailing it or dropping it off.
Where can I find Information about candidates and ballot issues? Many city newspapers in Montana publish candidate interviews that offer information about candidate's views. The Montana Secretary of State (SOS) publishes a Voter Guide to Ballot issues that is mailed to every household that has an active registered voter, and is available on the SOS website at the link below. Many of the candidates also post information on VOTE411, an election information website maintained by the League of Women Voters US, again with the link below.
Montana Secretary of State Ballot Issue Voter Guide:
LWV US VOTE411: https://www.vote411.org/
In addition, the Bozeman League has published a Voter Guide for Bozeman area races in partnership with the Bozeman newspaper. More information can be found here:
When should I mail my ballot to ensure it gets counted? The elections office must receive your ballot, not postmarked, by 8:00 pm on November 3 for your vote to count. The League suggests that you mail your ballot as soon as possible, and not later than October 26, for the Post Office to deliver it in time. If later, you can take it to your election office drop box. If you are in a county that opted for mail ballot election, you don't need a stamp. You can call your county elections office, listed in the link below, to find out where drop boxes are located in your county. There are now no restrictions on having someone else take your ballot in for you, if you cannot get it to a dropbox yourself.
How will I know if my ballot has been accepted? Voters can track their ballot using the My Voter Page on the Montana Secretary of State website: https://app.mt.gov/voterinfo/
Can I still vote in person on Election Day? Montana law also provides the option of in-person voting at your county election office beginning October 2 and running through Election Day November 3. You can vote in person OR deliver your mail/ absentee ballot to your county designated elections office drop box up to 8:00 pm November 3. Also, if you haven't registered to vote, you can both register and vote at the same time during regular business hours and up to 8:00 pm on Election Day.
Can a person vote twice? Voting twice in the same election is a felony. Montana election officials track who has voted using mail/absentee ballots. If a person also tries to vote in person, election records will show they have already voted and they will not be allowed to vote a regular ballot.
Below are links to more resources for Montana voters.
Common Questions About Voting (2 page brochure): lwvmt_voting_questions_brochure.pdf
Need to request an absentee ballot? Download the form at: https://sosmt.gov/elections/forms/
or request one from your county elections office. Return form by October 2 to have your ballot mailed Oct. 9.
Want a quick reference calendar of key dates for Montana's election? Here is the League's Election Calendar: