The Montana Supreme Court on Wednesday has overturned a Yellowstone County District Court Judge’s ruling that ballots dated up to June 2 must be counted in the mail-in primary election.

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox issued the following statement after the Montana Supreme Court decision.

“I am pleased that the Montana Supreme Court maintained our long-standing ballot deadline of 8:00 p.m. on Election Day, especially since some counties are using prepaid ballot return envelopes that are not postmarked. Ten days before an election is not an appropriate time to upend an important and widely known voting deadline.”

Missoula County Elections Administrator Bradley Seaman said the mail in election is beneficial, especially in this time of the COVID 19 virus.

“Many of our election workers are high risk demographics,” said Seaman. “Polling places call together large groups of people on one day in one place, so this will be a fantastic opportunity to still have a current election timeline, have the primary on the June 2 election date while protecting the health and safety of our friends, neighbors and family making sure that we don’t spread the COVID 19 virus through our polling places.”

Seaman said even though the polling places won’t be open, there will still be some services available on Election Day.

“We won’t have polling places open on Election Day,” he said. “We will have services for voters available at our late registration area and that’s at 140 North Russell. This will be our first election where we’ll use our new building, however, part of the governor’s directive was that we will have measures in place to help people practice social distancing. What that means to us is that we’ll have fewer stations to accommodate a six foot radius both for staff and for those who need to use our services, so we will have a maximum of 12 spaces available on Election Day.”

Seaman said he is not concerned about the many voices raised in protest over mail-in elections being subject to voter fraud.

“Thankfully, we’ve had very good guidance from the Secretary of State and we have good processes to help ensure that the voters be treated fairly and accurately in this election,” he said. “Every ballot that comes in is signature reviewed for their affirmation envelope, so we’ll be able to pull up that voter’s profile and view multiple signatures on that voter’s profile to help make sure that our election judges are confident that it was that voter signing that ballot.”


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