Missoula County Gears Up For Spring Elections – Preparing For Polling Place Election In Special Federal Election
The Missoula County Elections Office will be relocating from the County Courthouse to the Elections Center at the Missoula County Fairgrounds on April 5.
Elections Administrator Rebecca Connors said the fairgrounds offers many advantages over the downtown courthouse.
"The fairgrounds has many perks, including free and spacious parking, a fast and friendly staff," Connors said. "When we debriefed following last fall's election, we discovered some challenges. most of which could be remedied by having all our resources under one roof at the fairgrounds."
Connors is closely watching the progress of Senate Bill 305 to make the special federal election a mail-in ballot only election, but is not holding out much hope for its passage.
"Senate Bill 305 still sits in committee," she said. "They have not taken executive action for it yet. Here in Missoula County, we are approaching deadlines as to whether we'll have a mail-in or polling place election, so we are still planning for both. We're trying to make sure we don't drop any balls. While we're optimistic about a mail-in ballot, we think, realistically, a polling place election will occur."
Connors said Missoula County has several complications regarding the May 25 date for the special federal election.
"We still have eight polling places that have been reassigned to another polling place, and that impacts over 36,000 voters here in Missoula County," she said. "If it is a polling place election, we will need to notify all those voters indicating where those old polling places were, and is now in a new location. We were competing with graduations and other end-of-year events at local schools."
Connors reiterated the benefits of a mail-in ballot election.
"We would eliminate polling places and then we would have flexibility to just have drop-off locations, so if a voter still wanted the experience of receiving their ballot and then drop it off in person, we will still have election judges throughout the county similar to what we do for a city election."
Connors said school elections are exclusively done via mail-in only ballots.