According to the Governor's Office, on Wednesday Gov. Steve Bullock issued a directive allowing counties to expand voting by mail and early voting for the June 2020 primary.
A press release from the Governor's Office also said all counties must implement social distancing measures for election procedures.
“This is about protecting Montanans’ right to vote at a time we face unprecedented challenges with the COVID-19 pandemic,” Gov. Bullock said in the press release. “Locally elected officials best understand the voting needs of their communities, and taking this action now ensures they will have the time to make the right decisions for their localities. I feel confident we can protect both the public’s health and the right to vote with this direction.”
“I am in full support of Governor Bullock’s Directive of providing counties the option to conduct our June 2 primary by mail,” said Speaker Greg Hertz. “This Directive allows counties to choose what is best for their voters and election staff during this state of emergency.”
There are three components of Gov. Bullock's directive:
- Providing school districts with additional time to choose to conduct mail ballot elections
- Allowing counties the choice to conduct mail ballot elections and expand early voting for the June 2, 2020 primary election
- Requiring counties to establish, implement, and enforce social distancing policies at polling locations, designated drop-off locations, or other public-facing portions of facilities involved in voting
The directive also allows that even if a county adopts a mail ballot for the June primary election, Montanans may still vote in person during the thirty-day voting window, even if they have received a mail ballot.
According to the Governor's directive, all counties, regardless of their voting procedures, must also implement additional social distancing guidelines to make participating in the election safe and to reduce spreading COVID-19 within communities.
Counties are responsible for ensuring a minimum of six feet of distancing between individuals at polling locations, designated drop-off locations, or public-facing portions of facilities involved in voting. The directive also extends the close of regular voter registration until 10 days before the election to minimize the need for in-person registration or lines.