By now, if you live in Ravalli County and are a registered voter, you have received your 2020 General Election ballot in the mail (see photo above). You rip open the envelope and what you see looks like an absentee ballot, which have been mailed out from the Ravalli County Election Office for years now.

The blue sheet is full of instructions. Most of your questions are answered there. But, here's the short version:
The most important part of the mailing is the white ballot. Do not drip coffee on it or let your kids color the edges. Instead, look at both sides and read it carefully. If you don't understand the five ballot issues on the back side, do some homework. Then, make your selections and fill in the ovals completely with a blue or black pen. If you make a mistake, DON'T cross it out or use correction fluid. Instead, you'll need to bring it to the Election Office at the Ravalli County Administration Center at 215 South 4th Street in Hamilton. You'll be able to exchange it for a new one. (They've already had some coffee-stained ballots, by the way.)

Once you've voted, put the ballot in the green secrecy envelope and seal it. Do not mark that envelope. After all, it's a secrecy envelope.

Put that green envelope in the larger brown envelope and seal it. On the back of that brown envelope, there's a place for your signature. It is IMPORTANT to sign it. The election officials check your signature with the signature they have on file. That's part of the security measures of the election. After you've signed it, mail it. You don't even need a stamp! It's postage paid.

You don't need to mail it, either. You can take it to the Administration Center on South 4th in Hamilton, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and drop it in the official drop box. Or, you can even bring the unmarked ballot into the office, use one of the booths and mark it up there. Whichever way you do it, the ballot must be at the center by 8 p.m. November 3. Election Administrator Regina Plettenberg urges you to vote early. If by mail, by October 28th, at the very latest. And if you're bringing it in yourself, come early to avoid lines on Election Day.

What? You don't have a ballot yet? As soon as you can (during business hours), call the Election Office at 375-6650. The e-mail is:

TIPS: Here's how you can prepare for power outages