Ballots for the upcoming countywide special and municipal elections were mailed on Wednesday, October 16. Belgrade will be voting for mayor and councilmembers in each of the three wards. Along with the contests for municipal offices, countywide ballot issues – an ordinance to make county offices nonpartisan and the Law and Justice Center bond – will also be included on the ballot.
For this election, the City of Belgrade and Gallatin County are covering the cost of return postage, so ballots can be mailed without a stamp. In order to be accepted, the ballot must arrive no later than 8 p.m. on Election Day – Tuesday, Nov. 5. For ballots received after this deadline, postmarks cannot be accepted. Be sure to give the post office enough time to deliver your ballot. Wednesday, Oct. 30 may be the latest date that a ballot should be mailed in order to be received by Election Day.
Ballots can also be deposited at either Belgrade City Hall or the Gallatin County Courthouse in Bozeman during normal business hours. These places of deposit will be open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Election Day to accept ballots. Places of deposit are also located at the municipal offices in Manhattan, Three Forks and West Yellowstone.
The Ballot Interference Prevention Act (BIPA) was passed into law by voters during the 2018 general election. This new law requires that anyone who is collecting and depositing another voter’s ballot must complete a registry form that details whose ballot was collected, by whom, and their relation. In order to make compliance with this new law more efficient and effective, a BIPA registry form is included with each ballot packet on the reverse side of the standard instructions. If you are depositing the ballot of another voter, you must complete this form either beforehand or at the place of deposit. Do not include this form with your own ballot or a ballot returned by mail. No ballot will be refused for a lack of this documentation.
There are no polling places for this all-mail election. Montana’s mail ballot election laws require that all active voters, regardless of absentee status, receive a ballot in the mail. Voters who are inactive because a previous ballot was returned as undeliverable (federal law prohibits ballots from being forwarded),
or did not vote in the 2018 federal general election, and/or the voter did not respond to confirmation mailings are inactive. To reactivate your voter status, contact the Gallatin County Election Department at (406) 582-3060. If there has been no change to your residence address or other registration information, you will be reactivated and a ballot will be mailed to you. If you do not receive a ballot by Monday, Oct. 21, and believe that you are an active registered voter, contact the Election Department immediately.
If your voter registration information has changed or you are not registered to vote, Montana law requires that you appear in-person at the election office – 311 W. Main Street, Room 210 – in order to register or update your information. This time period is called “late registration” and is open 30 days prior to the election until noon the day before the election and reopens again from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Election Day. A ballot will be issued to the voter at the time of late registration.
The Gallatin County Election Department is ready to serve voters with answers to questions regarding their voter registration status, ballot status, and information about the upcoming elections. The office can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (406) 582-3060.
We encourage voters of Gallatin County to participate in this election and return their ballot in a timely manner. Don’t wait to mail your ballot!
Eric Semrad is the Gallatin County Clerk and Recorder.