Sean McQuillan doesn’t send letters by mail, and he definitely doesn’t carry around postage stamps. So to vote in last week’s all-mail election, McQuillan, 21, dropped off his ballot at one of the election drop sites in Missoula. This year was the fourth time the city of Missoula held a mail-only election, and turnout hit 43 percent with the mayor’s race on the ballot. “It really does help drive up participation in elections,” said McQuillan, chairman of the Montana Public Interest Research Group. It does by large numbers, too, according to the Missoula County Elections Office. At the same time, though, casting a ballot in Missoula can be complicated, and the process can leave voters muddled.
Every year, the elections office has made tweaks to improve things, and organizations such as MontPIRG and Forward Montana reach out to voters and offer suggestions to elections officials. Elections administrator Vickie Zeier, though, said the biggest problem is that elections remain unpredictable to voters.
“Every other year, elections are conducted differently, so I don’t blame the voter for being a little confused,” Zeier said. And consistent elections don’t look imminent.