Ballots in the mail for city election

Ballots are in the mail Monday for the city election.

The mayor, two commissioner seats and municipal judge are on the ballot, as well as all nine neighborhood councils, for the Nov. 5 election.

Lynn Deroche, county elections supervisor, told The Electric that about 28,000 ballots were being mailed but eligible voters can still register up until the polls close on Nov. 5.

Bob Kelly is running unopposed for another two-year term as mayor.

Six candidates are vying for two seats on the commission for four-year terms.

Tracy Houck is seeking re-election. The other candidates are Bruce Pollington, Kim Rodriguez; Jasmine Taylor, Terry Thompson and Rick Tryon.

Commissioner Bill Bronson’s term ends this year but he is not seeking re-election.

Judge Steve Bolstad is running unopposed for another term as municipal judge.

No one filed as a write-in for the mayor, commission or judge seats so names written on ballots won’t be counted, according to elections officials. Write-ins will only count for neighborhood councils that don’t have a full slate of five or more candidates. City staff uses the write-ins for neighborhood councils to fill vacancies for council’s that didn’t have enough candidates. Each council has five seats.

Voters can register at the election office in the courthouse annex at 325 2nd Ave. N, until 5 p.m. Nov. 1. On Nov. 4, elections staff moves to Expo Park and voters can register and return ballots from 7 a.m. until noon. On Election Day, polls will be open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Several state law changes are impacting this year’s election.

First, elections staff can start processing ballots early and Deroche said Cascade County elections staff plans to start running ballots through the machine on Monday. They cannot pull any results until polls close at 8 p.m. on Nov. 5.

Second, the Montana Ballot Interference Prevention Act will change the way voters can return their ballots.

The 24-hour drop box at the courthouse annex will not be available, nor will another drop box in the annex, Deroche said.

The law requires anyone dropping off a ballot other than their own to fill out a bright pink form and return it to the elections office with the ballots, but do not seal it in the ballot envelope.

The law prohibits anyone from collecting or returning more than six ballots other than their own.

Because elections staff has to have collectors sign a registry when delivering ballots and collect the pink forms, it will mean higher staffing costs for the elections office, according to multiple Cascade County officials.

The drop box in the courthouse annex foyer inside the door on 2nd Avenue North will remain, but must be staffed under the law. Deroche said elections staff will man the box in two hour blocks every day for the next two weeks.

She said 63 percent of Cascade County voters supported the ballot interference prevention act in the November 2018 election.