HAMILTON — Ravalli County will press ahead with plans for all voting by mail in November.
Concerned about the safety of voters and her election workers, Ravalli County Clerk and Recorder Regina Plettenberg renewed her call for vote-by-mail Tuesday, telling county commissioners she was appealing for them to follow that course with "every fiber of her being."
Plettenberg's plans had run into some opposition, with some Ravalli voters worrying about "fraud," saying their right to vote in person was in jeopardy. But Plettenberg maintains using the mail is not only safe, but less confusing with most Montana counties choosing that route.
"Most of us do get news out of Missoula," Plettenberg said. "They're going to be all over the place, telling voters what the deadlines are and the options are. And if ours are different I think that's just going to add to the confusion for our voters."
Ravalli County GOP Chair Terry Nelson accused Gov. Steve Bullock of "warping" the election in favor of Democrats by leaving the decision up to counties, but reasoned vote-by-mail could actually help Republican turnout.
"That is why I will continue to fight for a traditional election, while also asking you to join me in supporting our Republican commissioners and clerk and recorder in mail out only ballots as long as the governor's edict is in place," Nelson said.
"Nothing about this year has been easy. Nothing about this year has been easy," Plettenberg said. "I'm not going to ask you to support my decision or even like it, but I am asking that you respect it, and let me move forward with it."
Commissioners opted to let Plettenberg proceed with vote-by-mail as they expressed their trust.
"Even those that opposed mail ballots, what we heard is that they trust Regina," Ravalli County Commissioner Jeff Burrows said. "They have no reason not to trust her."
"I've watched for many, many, many years as you conduct these elections and administer them," Ravalli County Commissioner Chris Hoffman added. "And I've always admired the way you handle things."
Although the course is set now for vote-by-mail there's still a lot of work for Plettenberg and her staff to do, to educate people on the upcoming dates and the process for a vote-by-mail election.