NewsGreat Falls News


Library Mill Levy election running smoothly under 'election monitor' observation

Sandra Merchant (June 6, 2023)
Voting in Great Falls (June 2023)
Posted at 6:18 PM, Jun 06, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-06 20:18:17-04

GREAT FALLS — The Great Falls Library Board of Trustees filed suit on May 11, 2023, asking for the appointment of an “election monitor.” As the June 6th special election for the Library Mill Levy has begun, Cascade County Elections Office assures the public that the process is running smoothly.

“We are very hopeful that this election will happen successfully, and we're looking forward to getting the results either later today or tomorrow,” said Susie McIntyre, Director of the Great Falls Public Library.

If the Library Mill Levy Passes, an increase to the Great Falls Public Library Fiscal budget would bolster early literacy programs, add staff, and keep the lights on seven days a week. Should the Mill Levy fail, the library would not receive adequate funding to meet state library standards and would cut its operating hours to five days a week.

The lawsuit filed came after several issues in the election night process were brought to light on the May 2nd GFPS Board of Trustees election. Cascade County Sandra Merchant addressed the inefficiencies at an emergency meeting held by the Great Falls Library Board of Trustees.

Since the previous election, Sandra Merchant and the Elections Office staff have boosted its processes and are working towards running a smooth operating election.

“It’s not meant for one person to run elections. Having staff has been a big, big, big help. They're very dedicated and hard workers. I can't say enough about how great they are to work with,” explained Merchant on Election night.

Sandra Merchant (June 6, 2023)
Sandra Merchant (June 6, 2023)

Merchant also added that she felt that made of the inefficiencies came from the lack of staff.

As of 3:00 p.m. Tuesday, June 6, 2023, absentee ballots submitted prior to election day were being run through the tabulator.

At the time of this article, Sandra Merchant did not have an update on how many ballots had been run through the machine. She told MTN News she was hopeful for preliminary results for the 10:00 p.m. broadcast.

A few other changes at the polls were the layout of voting stations, curtains masking the tabulator, and designated seating areas for media and public observers.

“That it's helped the voters as far as privacy because the way it was set up before there wasn't as much privacy. This way, they've got a separate area. People can't just wander through and see them while they're voting and everything.” She went on to add, “The reason we had the curtains around the tabulator is that we started before polls close, with counting, and it must be enclosed so nobody can get any idea of what results could be.”

When the Elections Office began tabulating ballots, there were a few issues with the machine. Those kinks have been worked out.

In-person voting will remain open until 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday. Voters can still update their registration, find their ballot from their precinct, and observe the election process.

We will keep you updated on the air and online as results become available.

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