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Montana absentee voters confused about ballot changes as Election Day nears

Posted at 11:24 AM, Nov 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-03 13:24:36-04

BOZEMAN- More than 35,000 Gallatin County absentee ballots have been completed and returned to the Gallatin County Clerk & Recorder.

Clerk & Recorder Charlotte Mills said her office gets numerous calls concerning their ballots.

“We have so many phone calls that we can’t answer the phone. So we have messages that we have to get. So like this morning before everybody came in I actually retrieved seven voicemails,” said Mills. 

Mills said there are a lot of questions voters have concerning the election on Tuesday.

“Requesting an absentee and voting an absentee and whether or not on the absentee list and how they can get an absentee ballot,” said Mills.

Last-minute political shifts, like Libertarian Rick Breckenridge putting his support behind Republican candidate Matt Rosendale in the U.S. Senate race, also confuse voters.

David Parker, Montana State University professor and MTN political analyst, wants to make it clear to voters that Breckinridge’s name will stay on the ballot and the votes already cast for him will stand.

“No one can change your vote, no one can go in there and say, ‘You voted for X and that means Y,’” said Parker.  “So if you sent an absentee ballot in before a change and let’s say someone drops out of the race, that vote still goes to that person, it is still recorded to that person.”

Close to 60% of Gallatin County’s absentee ballots have been collected in advance of the election. Parker said he doesn’t believe this change will the outcome of the election.

“So whether it changes anything in the election is somewhat immaterial, because the ballot is gone out,” said Parker. “So a lot of people probably don’t even know. about what happened with Rick Breckenridge so if they are planning to vote for Rick Breckenridge are probably are going to vote for Rick Breckenridge. Period.”

Parker expects the turnout for this midterm election will be recording-breaking for the state.

Mederious Babb reporting for MTN News