GREAT FALLS — The nearly 47,000 registered voters in Cascade County will receive their ballots by mail ahead of the upcoming general election on November 3rd.
The Cascade County Commission voted unanimously in a special meeting on Tuesday morning to approve the proposal for an all-mail ballot election proposed by county election administrator Rina Moore.
Voters will still have the option to vote in person at a polling place using their mailed ballot if they so choose.
“We have determined that it is most economically and administratively feasible way of conducting the election,” Moore said during the meeting. “Elections takes months and months of planning. And I have lost hours of sleep thinking about how we can run this election by poll. And I do not believe that it is feasible logistically.”
Moore cited concerns with long lines due to limitations on building capacity. “We have estimated that our voters will have to stand in line outside our facility for a period of up to two to four hours, depending on the time of day,” she said. “We will also need line monitors to make sure that social distancing is being adhered to during a normal election.”
The commission and the elections office have received numerous emails and phone calls over the past few weeks, both for and against a mail ballot election. Moore addressed some of the common complaints against voting by mail, and the commissioners voiced their support for her office.
“For those of you who are concerned about voter fraud - are we immune? No. Am I comfortable with the team that’s in place that it will not happen in Cascade County? The answer is yes," Commissioner Joe Briggs said.
Commissioner Jane Weber agreed. “I’ve seen (the elections office) operate, and I know that they have the integrity to make this work,” Weber said.
“We are all in a changed situation here due to COVID-19 and it’s not the fault of the elections office," she continued. "We are trying to follow the directives of the CDC and our public health officers, and I commend Rina for thinking ahead to what her needs might be.”
Ballots will be mailed to voters in October, and the elections office will work to ensure accuracy of the count and registration all the way up until 8 p.m. on November 3rd.
“So like all mail ballot elections, anyone that does not receive their ballot through the mail, anyone that makes an error on their ballot, anyone that is inactive can come into the office and we can reissue a ballot,” Moore said.