Elections Administrator Provides Details on All Mail Election
With Missoula County choosing the all mail ballot option offered by Governor Steve Bullock last week, Elections Administrator Bradley Seaman took the time to clarify the issue of postmarks on the ballots.
“There had been some confusion and there were some lawsuits during the primary election about postmarks,” said Seaman. “There was a district court judge ruling where postmarks would apply and then that was overturned. We're currently operating off of the latest ruling where postmarks would not apply for the election. So for the November election under the current laws for elections, they must be turned in by 8pm on Election Day, and a postmark after that date will not be accepted.”
Seaman acknowledged that some voters will still choose to drop off their ballots in person, but there will only be one place available to do so.
“It will just be at the election center,” he said. “However, in addition to the 13 hours normally open on Election Day, we're going to have 199 additional hours. So starting on October 2, anybody can come and vote in person. Polling places are really important to me. That's how I got started in elections, and so it's unfortunate that we don’t have them but it's for the sake of health and safety of the community.”
For those who choose to drop off their ballots in person, Seaman provided more information.
“We will be providing extended hours including afternoon hours until 6:30 p.m.,” he said. “Some weekend hours will be available as we get close to the election so that somebody who normally votes in person and who would feel more comfortable voting in person will still have that opportunity, however, just at the Russell Street office. Nowhere else will you be able to get a ballot to vote.”
Seaman said if there are still ballots to count as midnight falls on Election Day, special provisions will be made.
“Our plan for November is that if we still have outstanding ballots to count at midnight, all staff will pause and then resume the following day after getting some rest because accuracy is so important to elections,” he said.
Governor Bullock offered all 56 counties the option of holding an all mail election or a traditional polling place election. Missoula is among the many larger counties that chose the mail only option.