McCulloch making push for voter registration

Linda McCulloch

The Montana Secretary of State’s Office is reminding voters to check their registration status ahead of the November election. The deadline for traditional registration is October 9th.

Secretary of State Linda McCulloch is taking some road trips to check county election offices before November 6th.

Speaking from Lincoln County, she says she pops in to the offices to check procedures, best practices, “where they have all their voting equipment and I check to make sure they have their machines, their tabulating machines.”

McCulloch is also making a push for Montanans checking they are properly registered to vote. You can do so from the Secretary of State’s website.

Click the My Voter Page button.

Then you should be able to see your information is all up to date. You can see your polling place too and request an absentee ballot.

What if you know that stuff’s not going to be there? What if you still need to register?

Right now, you can print a registration form off online and mail it in.

October 9th is the deadline for registering this way. In order to register after the 9th, McCulloch said, “that must be done in person at the county courthouse or other location designated by the Clerk and Recorder.”

After that deadline, you still can register at your county courthouse until 8 PM on election day. To be eligible for registration, you must be a citizen of the United States.

“(You must be) a resident of Montana at least 30 days before the election and be at least 18 years old on or before election day,” McCulloch said.

That’s all you need. Although, it may help to inform yourself on the issues and candidates too.

 

Deadline passes for petition signature efforts; no results for a month

Time is up for turning in petition signatures for the November Ballot. Advocates for various ballot initiatives have been been asking voters to sign these petitions for months now. Two initiatives look very likely to make the ballot, with others uncertain.

But the Secretary of State’s office says a lot of work has to be done before we know what makes the ballot.

Here’s what we do know. IR-124 will appear on the November Ballot. That’s the initiative that puts the Medical Marijuana reform bill passed by the last legislature before voters. We’ve actually known that for a while now. Signature gatherers got their totals in very early.

Then there’s Initiative 166. This is the non-binding requirement that elected Montana officials put into place policies saying corporations are not people. Sponsors released a statement this week saying they have turned in enough signatures too.

“But I would just like to remind people that there is still a certification and tabulation process that could change the number of those signatures that were turned in,” said Communications Director for the Montana Secretary of State’s Office Terri McCoy. The turning-in of signatures is far from the last word on initiatives.

“Every single signature is checked and verified,” she said, “and not only verified that you are a voter in the state but that your signature matches what you have on record with your voter registration.”

County election officials do this across the state. For initiatives altering state policy, they need to count almost 25-thousand signatures. For those altering the state Constitution, it’s almost 50 thousand.

Lewis and Clark County Elections Supervisor Marilyn Bracken says they won’t be able to even start counting the signatures until they get through the big stack of voter registration cards that go along with many of those signatures. She says that’s unusual—so many people registering to vote in order to sign petitions.

“That didn’t used to happen that way, we didn’t used to get a big stack of registrations that kind of slows us down because we can’t do the petitions until the registrations are in. Otherwise there’d be a lot of people and it wouldn’t qualify,” Bracken said.

Officials are counting for four other initiatives right now—including one defining personhood as beginning at conception. But the Secretary of State’s office won’t be releasing the final signature counts until July 20th.

 

Parties look to General Election with completion of Primary

The state’s two main political parties are now turning their sights to the November General Election after last night’s Primary.

Capitol Reporter Dan Boyce says both the Montana Republican and Democratic parties say they feel optimistic with the results.

Primary Day slow at the polls, absentee ballots up

Andrew Funk (left) waits to receive his ballot at the Lewis and Clark County Courthouse

Andrew Funk (left) waits to receive his ballot at the Lewis and Clark County Courthouse

The votes are still coming in. The polls are still open for Montana’s Primary Election. Hotly-contested races for Governor, US House and Attorney General hang in the balance.

And yet, at polling places, Election Day excitement seems pretty mild.

College student Andrew Funk just moved from Missoula back to Helena for the Summer. He had a spare minute while the people in front of him registered to vote.

“I grew up here and I have personal connections to the people in this community running, so I wanted to cast my vote for the people that I really know,” he said.

In a room right next to Funk, those registered could grab their ballots and turn them in. There was a fairly constant stream of voters, but it was a pretty tepid one.

Lewis and Clark County Election Supervisor Marilyn Bracken says it’s the slowest Primary Day she has seen in a long time. Her office was a lot busier the last two primaries, 2008 and 2010.

“In 2008 they were lined up two lines out to the motor vehicle department,” she said.

That’s a pretty long line, considering by that time Andrew Funk had already finished registration and was grabbing his ballot.

“We don’t have an urgency of races,” said Montana Secretary of State Linda McCulloch, “We don’t have a presidential race hanging in the balance.”

2008 was a unique situation. The Democratic Presidential Primary between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama was still up in the air. Montana’s results really mattered nationally. There’s nothing like that now. McCulloch expects the primary turnout percentage to be somewhere in the 30s, maybe low 40s. She says overall, that’s about average.

There is one bright spot. The state sent out a record number of absentee ballots for a primary, almost 190 thousand. Latest figures show 67 percent have been turned back in. A decade ago the absentee return rate was more like 15 percent.

“So it really has changed the mindset and people can sit at home around the kitchen table and fill out their ballot and they can go online or check the literature and so they can do it at their leisure,” McCulloch said.

A dozen counties across the state will be hand-counting their ballots. Election officials say this does not mean they will be late, however the votes are tallied.

“It’s good that counties could prepare their ballots yesterday and quite a few did,” McCulloch said. “So they can kind of lay them flat and get them ready to go through the machines and count them….I think we’re gonna see some results by 10 O’Clock.”

And for those of you who haven’t voted yet—the 60 to 70 percent of you out there. If you’re reading this right now, you still have a chance. YOU can still vote.

“If they hear it at 7:55 tonight, they can still take part,” McCulloch said. “They can still register to vote up until 8 O’Clock they can return their absentee ballots up until 8 O’Clock and they can vote at the polls until 8 O’Clock.”

Until 8 PM, you still totally have time. You can still do it.

And don’t forget, Montana Public Radio will be bringing you live coverage of results and analysis on the hour starting as soon as the polls close at 8 o’clock.

Montana 2012 Election candidacy stats (PRESS RELEASE)

Just received these 2012 Election candidacy filing stats from the Montana Secretary of State’s Office:

NEWS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 12, 2012

CONTACT: Terri McCoy, (406) 444-2807

2012 CANDIDATE FILING STATISTICS

Candidate Filing Closed Monday, March 12 at 5:00 p.m

HELENA – Secretary of State and Chief Elections Officer Linda McCulloch is pleased to announce that a record number of candidates filed for public office in 2012. Candidate filing for the 2012 election year opened at 8:00 a.m. on January 12, 2012 and closed at 5:00 p.m. on March 12, 2012.

“Montanans enjoy convenient and secure methods of participating in the elections process,” Secretary McCulloch said. “Online candidate filings surged this year, and a record number of voters are choosing to vote by absentee ballot. I’m confident this will be a strong election year.”

2012 Candidate Filing Statistics:

Total Candidate Filings (including withdrawn filings):  439

*Previous totals: 379 in 2010, 388 in 2008

Total Withdrawn Filings: 20

Total Web Filings: 279

Total Paper Filings: 160

Total Legislative Filings (including withdrawn filings): 325

*Previous totals: 337 in 2010, 322 in 2008

Total Withdrawn Legislative Filings: 20

Total Legislative Web Filings: 226

Total Legislative Paper Filings: 99

Total Non-Legislative Filings (including withdrawn filings): 114

*Previous totals: 42 in 2010, 66 in 2008

Total Withdrawn Non-Legislative Filings: 0

Total Non-Legislative Web Filings: 53

Total Non-Legislative Paper Filings: 61

Legislative Filing Numbers by Party

Total Democrat Party Filings: 140 filings, 8 withdrawn

Total Republican Party Filings: 170 filings, 11 withdrawn

Total Libertarian Party Filings: 11 filings, 1 withdrawn

Total Independent Filings: 3 filings, 0 withdrawn

*Total Green Party Filings: 1 filing, 0 withdrawn (*candidate did not meet signature requirements)

Total Opening Day Filings:  155

*Previous Record total: 106 in 2010 

Total Web Filings:  73

Total Paper Filings:  82

Total Legislative Opening Day Filings:  126

Total Non-Legislative Opening Day Filings:  29

Total Closing Day Filings: 76

*Previous Record total: 70 in 2010

Total Withdrawn Filings: 4

Total Web Filings: 71

Total Paper Filings: 5

Total Legislative Closing Day Filings: 64

Total Non-Legislative Closing Day Filings: 12

United States President Filings: 5

*6 candidates filed in 2008, 8 filed in 2004

United States President Republican Filings: 4

United States President Democrat Filings: 1

United States Senator Filings: 5

*7 candidates filed in 2008, 9 in 2006

United States Senator Democrat Filings: 1

United States Senator Republican Filings: 2

United States Senator Libertarian Filings: 2

United States Representative Filings: 11

*7 candidates filed in 2010, 4 in 2008

United States Representative Democrat Filings: 7

United States Representative Republican Filings: 3

United States Representative Libertarian Filings: 1

Governor & Lieutenant Governor Filings: 11

*5 filings in 2008, 6 filings in 2004

Governor & Lieutenant Governor Democrat Filings: 2

Governor & Lieutenant Governor Republican Filings: 7

Governor & Lieutenant Governor Libertarian Filings: 1

*Governor & Lieutenant Governor Independent Filings: 1

(*candidate did not meet signature requirements)