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Gallatin County commission weighs in on non-partisan ballot vote

Posted: 3:01 PM, May 17, 2019
Updated: 2019-05-17 18:13:35-04

BOZEMAN – Voters might have to do their homework in upcoming elections, rather than relying on party affiliations listed on a ballot.

A newly-passed bill, House Bill 129, could give voters that non-partisan option.

“You wouldn’t show up on the ballot as a commissioner, sheriff, clerk or recorder, treasurer as Democrat or Republican,” said Joe Skinner, Gallatin County commissioner.

It’s a vote that would take the ‘Party’ off of the ballot.

Gallatin County Commissioner Joe Skinner said those waiting in poll lines would have to come a bit more prepared.

“The new law gives us the opportunity to put on the ballot an opportunity for the voters to decide if they want local elections in non-partisan,” Skinner said. “All around, I think it’ll be a good thing.”

Skinner added it could also be an answer to a common question.

“The three times I’ve run for commissioner, that has been my top question at forums and people just talking to me is why are these offices even partisan?” Skinner said. “Why does it matter if the clerk and recorder or a sheriff is a Democrat or Republican?”

Skinner said other counties outside of Gallatin County have started picking up using non-partisan ballots, as well.

He added whether or not you are an R, a D, or an I, as long as you’ve done your homework, you’ll know who you are voting for.

“I think it’s a benefit because the voters, you know, they’re not going to just vote for republican,” Skinner said. “They are going to want to vote for which candidate represents their views.”

Voters like Lain Kay, who votes on the other side of the aisle from Skinner, agreed.

“I think that’s great because our positions now within the county really require expertise in accounting or in law enforcement or whatever so they aren’t really partisan,” Kay said.

Kay, who has served as an election judge in the past, said a more educated choice could help vote in better leaders.

“To get better candidates or the best candidates,” Kay said. “It’s not a question of the Democrats or the Republican running the counties anymore and so this will just make it a better administration.”

The non-partisan option will be on the ballot this municipal general election, which will happen November 5.

Reporting by Cody Boyer for MTN News