Counties across Montana are trying to figure out how to finance the special election on May 25 to replace former Rep. Ryan Zinke. Zinke was nominated to President Trump’s cabinet as the Secretary of Interior in February. County elections officials proposed Senate Bill 305, which would allow counties to decide if they want to hold an all-vote-by-mail election, but there’s much debate. Missoula County Elections Administrator Rebecca Connors says an all-vote-by-mail election would save Missoula County around $130,000. She says the bill would help smaller counties with tighter budgets and smaller elections staff. Bill opponents argue the bill would make voting less accessible because not everyone has access to a mailing address.
While the bill awaits approval in the House Judiciary Committee before making it to the House floor for a vote, Montana elections offices are faced with a new challenge that could cost counties thousands more dollars.
Thomas and Danielle Breck and Steve Kelly — potential candidates with the Montana Green Party and Independent Party — filed a lawsuit with Secretary of State Corey Stapleton’s office Wednesday to get their names on the special election ballot.
The trio is challenging Montana’s ballot access laws for independent and minor party candidates. Danielle Breck argues the three did not have enough time to collect the required 14,000 signatures to get their names on the ballot given the special election deadlines.