Recently on a Talk Back program featuring Missoula City County Elections Supervisor, one question that wasn't answered is this; can University of Montana students vote on issues that can raise taxes for Missoula residents? 

The answer is yes, Connors explains.

"Montana law allows anybody who is 18 years or older, and is a resident of the state for at least 30 days can register to vote in Montana," Connors said. "We do have a lot of students in this town. I ran a little search and between the ages of 18 and 21 we had 5,500 registered voters within that age demographic and 4,300 are within the city limits, and so I imagine there are a lot of students that live in the city limits."

"Since college takes a couple of years, most of them register to vote," Connors continued.  "We have a system here that when a student registers to vote we can find where they were registered before. That information is sent to the Secretary of State's office, who notifies the other state that the person can no longer vote in that state."

Connors said residents who may resent the fact that students who pay no property taxes directly can vote for issues that will raise them, will have to turn to the legislature for a remedy.

"Students who rent many feel the increase in property taxes indirectly," she said. "Some landlords have asked to put a line item on their rental form that would indicate how much of the rent goes to property taxes. However, anybody who is eligible to vote can do so, whether it's a bond or a mill levy, they can surely participate in that."

Connors said in 2014, Missoula County had over 1,400 late or same-day registrants and of that number 416 were brand new to the system.


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