Gov. Steve Bullock announced Wednesday the special election to fill Ryan Zinke’s U.S. House seat will be held May 25. The U.S. Senate confirmed Zinke as the Secretary of Interior in President Donald Trump’s cabinet Wednesday. Zinke submitted his resignation as a Montana representative hours later. Elections offices across the state are preparing to hold a special election to replace Zinke. Missoula County Elections Administrator Rebecca Connors says the process could be extensive. “A special election like this is fairly unprecedented for Montana, so a lot of the elections administrators are all in the same boat of trying to coordinate on such short notice and make sure that we’re ready for a federal election,” Connors said. She says elections take at minimum five months to coordinate, but as of March 1 they only have about three.
Connors says the first step to hold a special election is coordinating with polling locations. “There (will be) a lot of challenges. Many of the local schools are holding graduation that day,” Connors said. She said the county also must consider budget, staffing and training for elections administrators and volunteers. “The biggest problem for our office is this is not a budgeted election, and I only have the funds left to conduct a school election,” Connors said.
She’s supporting Senate Bill 305 currently in the Montana legislature, awaiting approval in the House. If passed, the bill would mean a mail-in ballot election.