Election #1.tiff

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Fallon County voters have an option to vote in person, according to the officials handling the upcoming November election.

“An in-person voting option is what they are calling it,” said Deborah Wyrick, the deputy county clerk and recorder. All ballots will be mailed out Oct. 9 to active voters only. That means new residents will need to make sure they are eligible and on the voting rolls.

“In Fallon County there is only one precinct, but we are doing an all-mail ballot with the in-person voting option,” she added. That option will only be available in the office between the hours of 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.

For those mailing in ballots, the completed ballots must be put in a security envelope, which is then put inside an outer envelope. “The outer envelope has a signature on it,” Wyrick said.

“This is the first year that we will have a mail ballot for federal or state elections. In even years, when there is federal and state on the ballot, they are all poll elections in the state of Montana.

“With COVID and the governor’s directives, he has allowed us to mail ballots. For Fallon County, we are predominantly an absentee county. We have probably 59 percent of our voters registered as absentee.

“So even in a normal election we have a large number of people who vote by mail which is actually an absentee ballot technically.”

The in-person voting option is already open for people coming into the office in the county building, she added. “It still requires you to bring the ballot in and the envelopes.”

If people forget to bring in their ballot and paperwork which had been mailed to them, Wyrick said people can still vote. “They would be required to cancel or void their ballot and have one re-issued here in our office.

“But, we don’t have the ballots (on hand) to do that for a lot of people. We order probably about ten percent more ballots than we probably have for voters, but that wouldn’t allow for everyone to come in and say they want to void the ballot they left on the kitchen table at home,” she said.

There still are important deadlines residents need to meet, including regular voter registration (Oct. 26),  and late registration begins Oct. 27.

For Wyrick, the most important thing for people to remember is to bring all of their paperwork with them to the office, whether it is to vote, to drop off their vote or to ask questions about the ballot and procedures.

“If they want to vote here, it will take no longer than it takes at home. If they haven’t read their voter information pamphlet and they have to read all of it, it could take them a little longer.

“The voting process would be whatever it would be normally for them. Then they would have to put it in the secrecy envelope and in the outer envelope and sign it. It may take two minutes (after filling the ballot out) maybe, maximum.

“We are going to have a ballot box for them to deposit it into,” Wyrick said. If they haven’t filled out the ballot yet, the office will send them to a place to do that, then put the ballot in the envelopes and complete everything before putting it in the drop box.”

The drop box will be on the front counter. “If they want a (I have voted) sticker. We don’t normally do that,” she added with a chuckle.

Because of the COVID pandemic, the office is trying to keep what people touch to a minimum.

If people have questions about the ballot, they can call 406-778-7106. “That is the Clerk and Recorders Election office. We can answer questions for them.”

In addition, voters can find assistance online by searching for “my voter page Montana” that takes them to the Secretary of State web page for Montana. There, people can check on their voting status, voter registration address and the location or directions to the nearest polling place,  according to Wyrick.

The page can also be reached by going to sosmt.gov and then to the my voter page, she said. “There is a lot of information to sort through when you go to the sosmt.gov page. It will allow them to put in their personal information – name as it is registered and date of birth. It will bring up your voter information and if you are registered to vote.

“If you are inactive, you are not going to get a ballot,” she added.

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