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Mail In Ballot Effort Gets New Life With A Stroke Of The Governor’s Pen

photo from State of Montana
Bryce Bennett

On Friday, Governor Steve Bullock gave new life to an effort to have the Special Federal Election on May 25 be through a mail-in ballot, with an opt-out feature for counties who choose it.

House District 91 Representative Bryce Bennett said Governor Bullock used his power to add language an election reform bill that would resurrect the mail-in ballot for the Congressional election.

It was a clean-up bill that I had moved through just to clarify some portions of the election law, but the title was broad enough that he was able to add some additional language in there that provided for mail ballots for the upcoming special election,” Bennett said. “Traditionally, when you have a special election people aren’t used to voting, so you need to make an extra effort to make sure that people get out to vote. We know that in 2016, that 96 percent of people who voted by mail actually sent in their ballots. As a bonus, the counties who use mail ballots will save three quarters of a million dollars, as well.”

Bennett brought up the effort by Republican leaders to keep the election in traditional polling places because they felt a mail-in ballot would benefit the Democratic candidate.

“My concern is to try to get an many people to vote as possible,” he said. “Whether they vote for Democrats, Republicans or Libertarians, or even the Green Party or an independent, should the lawsuit by Thomas Breck be successful in federal court.”

Bennett said his bail does have a safety valve for individual counties.

“If we were able to pass this bill, everyone would get a mail ballot in the counties that choose to participate,” he said. “A really important piece to point out, is that this is an ‘opt-in’ situation, so counties that want traditional polling locations and absentee ballots are the better way to go, they are able to maintain that, but if counties feel this is a method to see a higher voter turnout, and save money in the process, that can opt-in.”

When the governor adds his amendatory veto to a bill, it is sent back to each of the chambers to either approve or disapprove his amendments, so if it is approved by both houses, it will go back to his desk for his signature.

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