Montana Elections

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Handful of changes to Wisconsin voting rules
10/22/16 |
Publication Date: 
Saturday, October 22, 2016 - 01:00

Under [a new state law] absentee ballots must be received by 8 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 8, in order to count. Previously, mail-in absentee ballots had to be postmarked by Election Day and received by a clerk’s office by 4 p.m. on the next Friday.

The new law is one of a handful of changes to voting rules that could trip up some of the half-million to a million people in the state who only turn out to vote once every four years for presidential elections.

The most substantial change for them will be the new voter ID requirement, which critics fear will cause long lines on Election Day and result in some eligible voters being turned away at the polls. Supporters say the requirement will prevent voter fraud, though incidents of illegal voter impersonation are exceptionally rare. ...

Those without a photo ID can apply for a free voting ID at a Division of Motor Vehicles location. For those lacking certain documentation, such as a birth certificate, the DMV must issue a receipt within six days that can also be used for voting while a request for ID is being processed.
How Charges of Voter Fraud Became a Political Strategy
10/21/16 |
Publication Date: 
Friday, October 21, 2016 - 01:00

[T]he principal fraud that Mr. Trump and most Republicans assail, and the only one that voter identification laws address — voters who intentionally misrepresent themselves at polling places — is exceedingly rare, experts say. They add that it is almost impossible to perpetrate on a scale that would affect the results of a national election. Democrats also note that with Republican domination of state governments, voting nationwide is increasingly overseen by Republicans. ...

Since the 2000 presidential election underscored the crucial role of voting rules in close races, allegations of widespread fraud also have figured in high-stakes political strategies. Increasingly, voter identification laws and other restrictions advertised as election security measures help determine who votes, and who does not.

“Suddenly, it became clear that in very close elections, manipulating the rules could potentially matter,” said Mr. Hasen, the election law expert. “And so voter fraud became an excuse for making it harder to register and to vote.”

And as the notion of pervasive fraud gained political value, keeping it in the public eye became smart politics as well. 

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Montana Election Info

Upcoming Elections in Your State

2016 General Election: November 8, 2016

Voter Registration Deadline: There are NO voter registration deadlines.  The regular registration deadline for the general election is 30 days before the general election.  However, Montana also has late registration (29 days before Election Day until 8:00 p.m. on Election Day) which must be done at the county election official’s office.

For more information, visit the Montana Secretary of State Website.

PLEASE NOTE:  Late registration closes temporarily at 12:00 noon the day before the election, and reopens again on Election Day.

Election Day:

Poll hours of operation vary.  Most polling places open at 7:00 a.m.  Some smaller polling places may open their polling places at 12:00 noon.  All polling places close at 8:00 p.m. or until all registered voters in the precinct have voted.  Contact your local elections official for exact times.

How to Find Your Polling Place:

Visit the Secretary of State’s My Vote tool to find your polling place.

Your voter registration card lists the location of your neighborhood polling place.  If you've misplaced your card, call your local elections office to find out where to vote.


Already registered? Verify your voter registration status.

Registration Deadlines:

The regular registration deadline for the general election is October 9, 2016, this being 30 days before the general election.   However, Montana also has late registration which runs through to 8:00 p.m. on the day of the election.  For late registration, you must show up at your local elections office during business hours up to and including Election Day and fill out a voter registration card.

PLEASE NOTE:  Late registration closes temporarily at 12:00 noon the day before the election, and reopens again on Election Day.

How to Check Your Registration:  Visit the Secretary of State’s My Vote tool to or call 866-OUR-VOTE.

Registration Eligibility: To be eligible to register to vote in Montana, you must:

  • Be a U.S. Citizen;
  • Be 18 years or older on or before the next election; and
  • Have lived in Montana for at least 30 days.

How to Register:

You can register to vote by:

  • Visiting your local elections office and filling out a form during business hours;
  • Filling out a voter registration form and mailing it or dropping it off at your local elections office; or
  • Filling out a form when you apply for or renew your drivers’ license or Montana ID.

Identification Required for Registration:

When filling out your registration form, you must provide a Montana driver's license or Montana ID number.  If you do not have either, you must provide the last four digits of your Social Security number.

If you do not have a Montana driver's license, Montana ID Card, or Social Security number, provide (in-person) or enclose (by mail) a copy of one of the following, showing both your name and current address:

  • Any photo ID showing your name;
  • A current utility bill;
  • Bank statement;
  • Paycheck;
  • Government check; or

Other government document that shows your name and current address.

If You Want to Vote Early

Montana does not have traditional early voting but you can cast an in-person absentee ballot starting no later than 30 days before the election.  You can find more information about absentee voting below.

If You Want to Vote Absentee

If you are a registered voter in Montana, you may also vote by absentee ballot, even if you are able to vote in person on Election Day.  

To vote absentee, you may complete the Annual Absentee List Application.  Once on this list, the ballots for all elections for which you are eligible will be automatically mailed to you.  To remain on the list, you must complete and return an annual confirmation notice mailed to you by your local elections office.  

To vote absentee without being added to the annual absentee list, you may instead an Application for an Absentee Ballot.

Applications for an absentee ballot must be RECEIVED (postmark does not count) at the local county election office by noon on the day before the election.  You may pick up an application at your local election office or at the Secretary of State's Office, or you may call either office and ask to have an application mailed to you. You may also download a free application.  Mail the application or drop it off at your local election office.  Once you've submitted your application, your absentee ballot will be mailed to you, unless you put on the application that you would prefer to have someone pick it up for you.

Once you've marked your ballot and signed the affirmation on the signature envelope, return it to your county elections office before the polls close on Election Day in the secrecy envelope that is provided.  The ballot must be RECEIVED by the county elections office by 8:00 pm on Election Day (a postmark does not count).

You may track the status of your absentee ballot at Montana's My Voter Page.

Identification Requirements to Cast a Ballot

You must present ID when voting.  When you enter your polling place, an election judge will greet you, ask your name, and confirm that you are registered to vote in that precinct.  He or she will then ask you to show ID.  This can be any current photo ID that shows your name (for example, a valid driver's license, school ID, state ID, or tribal ID) or a current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, voter confirmation notice, government check or other government document that shows your name and current address.

If you do not have any of the items listed above, you can still vote by requesting and filling out a "Polling Place Elector ID" form


You can vote a provisional ballot.  Your provisional ballot will be counted if you provide one of the items on the list to the county elections office by 5:00 p.m. the day after the election, or mail it to the county elections office postmarked by the day after the election.

VoteRiders has created Montana voter ID info cards in English and in Spanish.

Moving within the Same County

You are entitled to cast a regular vote at the polling place, an absentee ballot, or a mail ballot in the precinct where you are registered. However, you may only do this for the first election after your move.  Furthermore, you must state your new address when offering to vote, and must complete a transfer form or new registration form to make the necessary correction before being allowed to vote in a polling place election.

Moving Between Counties

You must re-register in your new county of residence in order to vote. However, if you have moved to a different county 30 days or less before an election you may (i) vote in person or by absentee ballot in the precinct and county where previously registered; or (ii) update the elector’s registration information and vote in the your new county of residence. 

Registering and Requesting an Absentee Ballot

Registering to vote and requesting absentee ballots in Montana is easy for absent active duty military and overseas electors.  You can register and vote using the Secretary of State’s Electronic Absentee System (EAS) by going to

Within 45 days of a Federal Primary or Federal General election, absent active duty military and overseas electors can visit the Secretary of State’s Electronic Absentee Service (EAS) at, fill out the Federal Post Card Application online, save it and return it via mail, email or fax to the county election office.

If not using the Electronic Absentee System, the best form to use to register is the Federal Post Card Application.  This form is used both for voter registration and to request absentee ballots for all the state and local elections through the calendar year following the year in which it is requested. 

You can submit it by doing the following:

  • Print a Federal Post Card Application form, fill it out and mail it to the local election office; or
  • Before you leave for active duty or move overseas, visit your local election office on weekdays between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. and complete and submit a Federal Post Card Application form.

Another source of information is the Federal Voting Assistance Program, which has forms and tips on registration and voting, including information about options for voting by facsimile and through the Internet.  You can also reach the FVAP at 1-800-438-VOTE (8683).

Receiving an Absentee Ballot

Within 45 days of a Federal Primary or Federal General election, absent active duty military and overseas electors can visit the Secretary of State’s Electronic Absentee Service (EAS) at, fill out the Federal Post Card Application online, save it and return it via mail, email or fax to the county election office.

In relation to the Presidential election the returned ballot must be received by 8 p.m. ET on November 8, 2016.

Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot

If you requested your absentee ballot and haven't received it from your State at least 30 days before the election, you can use the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB). The FWAB is an emergency backup ballot. This backup ballot can be completed using the FWAB online assistant, by filling out the PDF or picking up a hard copy version from your Voting Assistance Officer. The online assistant will guide you through the process of completing the form. Once you complete the form, you will be able to download and print the PDF package to sign and send to your election office. This PDF package even includes a pre-addressed and postage paid label so you don't have to worry about finding stamps! Don't forget a security envelope. (Use a separate blank envelope and write "Security Envelope" on it and place your voted ballot in it. This keeps your vote private.)

You cannot vote if you're a convicted felon serving a sentence in a penal institution.  Formerly convicted felons who have been released, but are serving parole or probation are still able to register and vote.  If your registration is cancelled due to a felony conviction, you must re-register upon your release in order to vote.


Top Issues to Field

For more information for voters with disabilities, find a National Disability Rights Network partner in your area.

For more information for student voters, visit the Student Voting Guide from the Brennan Center for Justice.


Information provided by Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights

Voting as a Student

As a student, you have a constitutional right to register and vote in the place you truly consider to be “home” — whether that’s your parents’ house, your apartment, or your dorm room. But before you make the important decision about where to vote, make sure you know the voting rules (and sometimes consequences) of registering to vote in that state.

More Info On Student Voting

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2016 Election Information for your state