Everything you need to know about upcoming election.
Below is a conversation we had with Cascade County Elections Department. She explains everything you need to know about the November 8th election.
Ballots go out today, October 14th
PAT: ballots go out in the mail in Cascade County tomorrow. Elections director Rena Fontanamore joining us right now. Hey, Rena. How are you? Good morning. I'm just fine, how are you guys? We're doing great. Now, ballots go out Friday, how many an all?
RINA: So we have 34,836 ballots going out in the mail tomorrow. We've been working on them for the last several weeks. We've spent some long hours in the office to make sure that everything's ready to go. 75% of the voters in Cascade County choose to and have applied for the process to get their ballot through the mail and that's going to be happening here just shortly.
How many voters are in the county
PAT: So how many registered voters do we have in the county if you're sending 34,000 out plus?
RINA: so with active and inactive and it's kind of strange to always add the inactive, but whenever we run reports we've got about 52,000, but actually for active voters not anywhere near that number. And so I think the most important thing is that because we've got some rumors out there is that we don't send a ballot to everyone and that people actually have to go through the process and either mark the box on their registration card to request about through the mail or we have a little form that they have to fill out within the office if they want to get their ballot through the mail. And so everyone that is getting a ballot through the mail has actually applied for the process.
Important question on the ballot
RANDY: A lot of things to look at on the ballot this year, Rena. And one of the big issues is going to be the marijuana. Judge Grubic ruled yesterday that the city can't stop dispensaries coming in. Is that going to change anything on the ballot? How is that going to affect the question about adding dispensaries in the city Great Falls?
RINA: So currently the city can't prohibit the marijuana dispensaries from coming into the city limits. The issue on the ballot is asking the voters if they can change the charter. And so if the voters say that they can't move into the city of Great Falls, then they can't move into the city of Great Falls. But the city itself as a governing body cannot enforce that. So it is up to the voters whether they're going to allow dispensaries within the city limits or not.
Need to register or change something
RANDY: If a person needs to change they moved last week, they're into a new part of the county. How do they go about doing that? Is that something that they still have time to change the voting districts that they're in, or what are they in?
RINA: Oh, absolutely, yes. So the Supreme Court and then the district court backed up the ruling. We are back to same day registration in Montana. So right now we're in late registration. All late registration means is that you can come in here, you can register to vote, but you have to come in in person. So we can't just accept a registration card through the mail anymore. So you come into our office, we're open from 07:00 A.m. Until 05:00 P.m. Monday through Friday, and you can register. We'll issue the ballot right here while you're here. And you can do that clear until 08:00 P.m. On election day again. And the only time that we're closed for that process is from noon to five on the Monday before the election, November 7. And that is just simply so that we can run our registers and get everything ready to go for Tuesday morning on November 8.
RANDY: On the phone with us. Rina fontana Moore, Cascade County election. And you said registration, if that's people coming in wanting to register, if they need to change an address, if they need to update, is that the same process?
RINA: Absolutely, yes. They just come into our office and it has to be into the elections administrators office. And so when we move our office across town that week before the election, that process will take place over there. But yes. If you have moved. If we have you on the inactive list and the way you could be on the inactive list is if you didn't vote in the federal general and did not respond to some of our mailings. If a ballot came back as undeliverable in some of our full mail ballot elections and you didn't respond to some of our mailings. You might end up on the inactive list. And so those people can just come in, we just ask them to fill out a new registration form at that time so we would issue a ballot because we're in the late registration process. And yeah, so moving from out of state, from out of the county, the only caveat for moving out of state is that they have to have been a month in Montana for 30 days prior to November
Can you register to vote on election day
PAT: Rena, there's been a lot of back and forth in the courts over the last several months. Am I correct in saying that people can register to vote as a new voter on Election Day?
RINA: Yes. The Supreme Court and District Court removed several of the laws that the 2021 Legislature put in place. Yes, you can do that all on Election Day clear up until 08:00 in the evening. And then the ID requirements reverted back to what they used to be. So you can use the IDs as far as you can use a concealed carry. You can use your driver's license, a Montana ID, a school ID with a photo on it. If You don't have any of those. Then we just need and this is basically for poll voters, so if you go in now and have to give your ID when you're voting at the polls and you don't have a picture ID, then you can present, like, a utility bill, a pay staff or whatever. But the caveat to that is that the address on that vehicle registration or pay staff or whatever has to match with how we have you registered in the system.
Places to vote election day
RANDY: Montanacle Park the only polling place in the county, or are there other places to Vote?
RINA: No, we have five polling places. So Exhibition Hall at Montana Expo Park is the biggest one. That's where the majority of the people vote. We've got Wadsworth Hall out in Cascade for that area. Out there. We have this Fortune Senior Center in Sunrise. The Vaughan fire station out in Vaughan. And then we have the Belt Senior Center out in Belt.