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Montana election officials: Contact county if mail ballot hasn't arrived

Posted at 7:49 PM, May 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-22 21:49:22-04

HELENA — Election officials in Montana are reminding voters that they should contact their local election administrator as soon as possible if they haven’t received their mail ballots for the June primary.

“Any issues – you didn’t receive your ballot, your ballot packet isn’t complete, you make a mistake or you need a new ballot – we say contact us sooner rather than later, so we have lots of time to get it resolved and you have time to vote and get your vote turned in,” said Lewis and Clark County elections supervisor Audrey McCue.

Lewis and Clark County have mailed out more than 41,000 ballots. About 1,600 of those have been returned as undeliverable. McCue says that usually means someone moved or that they are having their mail forwarded. By law, ballots cannot be forwarded.

“What we will do is send a letter to you that is forwardable, so at your new address or at your temporarily-away address, you’ll get that notice that your ballot came back undeliverable,” said McCue. “Daily we get quite a few of those back in the mail or those people give us a call, and then we can remail the ballot to their new address.”

McCue said most of the people who’ve reported they didn’t receive a ballot in the mail had recently moved or are new to the county. There are also several thousand “inactive” voters who have not voted in recent elections or responded to communications from elections officials. Those voters did not receive mail ballots, but officials sent them an additional letter the ballots went out, informing them that they were considered inactive and giving them the option to reconfirm their registration.

This is the first time that a statewide primary election will be conducted by mail ballot. Gov. Steve Bullock gave counties the option to switch to mail ballots to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus, and all 56 counties took it.

McCue said they did receive one report that a voter didn’t get all three party ballots – Democratic, Republican and Green – in their packet. If you have any concerns about a missing or incorrect ballot or envelope, you can contact the elections office at (406) 447-8339.

However, McCue said, in general, this mail ballot election has gone smoothly so far.

“For voters, having a statewide election by mail is so different and so new,” she said. “But for those of us working in the county elections office, we do large mail-ballot elections at least once a year, sometimes twice a year or more, so we have the process down for sending the ballots and processing them when they come in.”

McCue recommends that voters who want to mail their ballot send it off by next Tuesday or Wednesday, to ensure it arrives before Election Day. They can also hand it in in person at the elections office in Helena, weekdays through June 2.

As of Friday, Lewis and Clark County had accepted 16,293 ballots – already a total voter turnout of nearly 35%. McCue said the county’s primary election turnout has averaged in the mid-40% range in recent elections.

“We’re guessing we’re probably on pace to have average or higher turnout than usual for this election,” she said.

You can find more information at the Lewis and Clark County Elections website.