September 28th is National Register to Vote Day. Voting seems to get the most attention every four years during the presidential election. However, various city and state elections happen fairly often. For example, in November the City of Billings will put two hot topics in front of voters; recreational marijuana and a hefty public safety mill levy.

Public school issues, local judges, county sheriff's, and city council matters are also put before registered voters on a regular basis. As an absentee voter, I feel like I'm always getting a ballot in the mail for something.

Credit: Google

 

Local elections often impact your life more than national decisions.

We get so worked up about national debates when the fact is, Montana's electoral vote (a meager three) makes almost zero influence on which candidate makes it into the White House. We're not really a battleground state.

It's much easier to feel the impact of state and local elections. Especially when it comes to things like abortion, gun restrictions, mask mandates, property and local taxes, police and fire support, public schools, etc. Your vote really does matter.

Photo by Austin Amestoy / UM Legislative News Service

What's new with Montana Voter laws?

Governor Greg Gianforte signed two new bills back in April 2021. One ends same-day voter registration. As the Montana Free Press reported, HB 176 requires that voters must register before noon the day before the election. Also new is SB 169 which requires voters must have one of the following options to vote:

  • A government-issued ID.
  • State concealed-carry permit.
  • Two forms of alternate ID (for example, birth certificate and SS card)

The new regulations are currently being contested by lawsuits (MTN News).

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The best solution is to register early and not worry about it.

Honestly, why not get registered now? It's surprisingly easy. The office of Montana Secretary of State Christi Jacobson explains how:

  • Register at your county election office.
  • Download the Montana Voter Application Form and mail it back.
  • Fill out the voter registration form when you renew your Montana driver's license/ID.

Easy enough, right? As I mentioned earlier in this article, I love absentee voting. I understand that some have reservations about voting by mail, but the convenience far outweighs the risk for me. Once you are a registered voter, you can find the Application for Absentee Ballot HERE.

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