General Election in Madison County
Mailed out ballots, no voting polls
Montana’s first all-mail in ballot election had the highest voter turnout in the country.
Much of the Big Sky State’s success with the 2020 primary election was due to the ease Montanans received their ballots and the familiarity Montanans have with voting through the mail. As in the primary election, every active Montana voter will receive a ballot in the mail, regardless of being registered for an absentee ballot.
“We’re not sending out ballots to pets, we’re not sending ballots to dead people,” Madison County’s Chief Clerk and Recorder Paula Mckenzie said. “We check on that.”
Primary elections tend to get less action than general elections, but Montana broke its turnout record for a primary election while topping the turnout rate for states. Madison County was in step with the state receiving votes from 61% of its registered voters in the 2020 primary election. The county usually hovers at or below 50% participation in primary elections.
Every year an average of 60% of voters in Madison County register for absentee ballots. The other roughly 40% of Madison County’s voters are accustomed to voting at the polls on election day. As in the 2020 primary election, polls will not be scattered around the county for the 2020 general election. But same day registration and voting will be available in person at the Madison County Commissioner Building in Virginia City. A drop box for ballots will be at the Virginia City office building starting in mid-October, according to Mckenzie.
“We prefer people to get registered beforehand,” Mckenzie said. “But they can definitely still vote if they’ve procrastinated.”
The Madison County Clerk and Recorders Office will mail ballots to every active voter in Madison County Oct. 9. Inactive voters, registered voters who did not participate in the last [general] election, must communicate with the Madison County Clerks and Recorders Office to become an active voter and receive a ballot in the mail.
“Give it a week,” Mckenzie said. “If you don’t have it by the 15th or 16th, give us a call.”
According to the Madison County Clerk and Recorders Office, unsolicited absentee ballot requests from political organizations with mailing lists from the Secretary of State’s Office have confused many Madison County residents. Montanans do not need to act on the unsolicited absentee ballot requests to be able to vote in the election.
“It confuses people because some think it’s a ballot,” Mckenzie said. “Double registration is fine. If they are already registered as an absentee, they still will only get one ballot.”
All ballots must be in possession of the Madison County Clerks and Recorders Office by 8 p.m. Nov. 3. A date of mailing stamp showing a ballot was mailed out before 8 p.m. Nov. 3 but did not reach the office by 8 p.m. Nov. 3 will not be counted.
The Madisonian will be covering the 2020 general election each week with candidate interviews, voting information and politics impacting Madison County.