With the special election to fill Ryan Zinke’s congressional seat just around the corner, the decision on how the election will be held is slated for March 23. Senate bill 305, which would make the election mail-ballot only, was passed Feb. 24. Now the bill is up for hearing in the House Judiciary Committee. The special election could cost the state around $3 million according to recent reports. That price would decrease significantly if counties didn’t have to open and staff physical polling places. However, Montana GOP chairman, Jeff Essman, reported that a mail-ballot election “give the Democrats an inherent advantage in close elections.” Last Thursday, Mineral County Commissioners held a Special Session-Resolution requesting a mail ballot election upon passage of SB 305.
Commissioner Roman Zylawy said a polling election would cost the county around $15,000. A mail-in ballot would cost half that much,
“So it’s an economic decision,” he said. “Plus the May 25 date could be a problem for some counties who have graduation at the schools where the school is the polling place.”
“Last I heard, if we have a poll voting, there are over 60,000 voters without a poll due to sites being reserved for other events,” said Montana Association of Counties President, Todd Devlin in a recent email.