Voting FAQs

Vote By Mail

What is a mail ballot election?


Mail ballot elections are common in Montana. For years, many city and school elections have been conducted via mail ballot. The June primary was also a mail ballot election. In a mail ballot election, all registered active voters in the county receive a ballot in the mail. Polling places are not open, but in-person services (like ballot replacement) are available at the county election office. Registered means that voters have shown the necessary identification and met the qualifications to register to vote in Montana. Active means that they have successfully voted in recent elections. Ballots are only accepted in Montana with proper ID (at polling places) or a matching signature (for mail ballots). So, these voters have already proven their identity. This identity will be verified again to cast a ballot in November’s election.




What’s the difference between absentee voting and a mail ballot election?


Montana has both absentee voting and mail ballot elections. There’s very little difference between the two. Absentee ballots allow voters to cast their vote by mail in every election, even when polls are open. More than 70% of Montanans vote absentee. This figure is as high as 90% percent in counties like Yellowstone!
Mail ballot elections send mail ballots to ALL registered active voters in the area. Since polling places are closed during mail ballot elections, active voters who normally vote in person at a local school or event center receive their ballot at home.




Are mail ballot elections secure?


Yes! All Montanans want secure elections. That’s why Montana’s election officials have multiple well-refined processes in place to prevent voter fraud from happening - including in mail ballot elections.These procedures confirm voters’ identities and ensure only one ballot is cast per registered voter. Every mail ballot includes one voter’s name and a unique barcode. When a voter returns the ballot, it must include a signature, and that signature MUST match the one on file from your voter registration form. The ballot is NOT processed if there is no signature OR if the signatures do not match. Elections officials will contact the voter and inform them of the issue. The only way for a voter to rectify the issue and have their ballot counted is to show proof of identification to the county election office.




Can someone cast two ballots?


No! Only one ballot is counted per person. There is no way to override the system and accept multiple ballots for the same person. If a person goes to the county elections office to receive a replacement ballot or vote in person, their first ballot is canceled and will not be accepted by the county. If a voter has mailed in their ballot and it was accepted by the county, they will not be able to receive a replacement ballot or vote in person.




Can someone use another identity to vote?


No. Due to signature matching requirements, it is virtually impossible to cast another voter’s ballot. Each mail ballot must be signed, and that signature is matched to the one on file from the voter registration form. If the ballot is not signed, or if the signatures do not match, the ballot is rejected. Ballots signed with fictitious names like Mickey Mouse are not accepted.




Can a pet vote?


No. Pets do not receive Social Security Numbers, drivers licenses or any other form of identification necessary to register to vote. Only registered active voters receive ballots in a mail ballot election, so Fido or Fluffy will not be able to vote.




Can someone use a deceased person's identity to vote?


Election administrators crosscheck their list of registered active voters with a list of deceased individuals. Voters on the list of deceased individuals are NOT mailed a ballot.




Can someone cast a ballot that was incorrectly sent to their home?


Montana law says that the USPS should return incorrectly addressed ballots to the county elections office. If a ballot is not returned, a new resident cannot simply fill out and submit another voter’s ballot. The signature on the ballot MUST match the one on file.





Registering to Vote

I'm a student who pays out-of-state tuition. Can I vote in Montana?


The state has different residency rules than the universities. You only need to be living here 30 days before the election to participate.




Can I change my address or my name using the voter registration form?


Yes. You can update your address (which you need to do even if you move across the street) as well as register under your new name. You even need to update your registration if your signature changes!




Can I register using my dorm address?


Absolutely! Just put your dorm name and room number followed by the city, state and zip. If you want to be sure you will be able to receive election related mail at your campus address, check out this handy guide to campus mailing addresses. If you plan to vote by mail, use the guide to ensure the postal service will be able to deliver your ballot.




Does registering to vote put me on the list for jury duty?


When you get your Montana driver’s license the state registers you for jury duty. If you have your MT driver’s license you are already on the list.




I go to school in another county. Can I register to receive my ballot from my hometown while I'm attending school?


Yes! Just put your residence address from the county you want to vote in under "Montana Residence Address" and the address that you would like to receive your mail at under "Mailing Address."




I don't have a Montana driver's license. Can I still register to vote?


Sure! The last 4 digits of your security number will work too. You can also attach a copy of another form of ID, such as a tribal ID. When you turn in your voter registration form, attach a copy of photo ID that shows your name, or acceptable ID that shows your name and current address (paycheck stub; utility bill; bank statement; tribal ID; or government document).




I'm a student and I'm already registered to vote at home. Can I register at my school address too?


No. You can only be registered to vote at one address at a time. You can receive a ballot from your home county in the mail, but you will not receive two ballots.




Can I vote if I am a convicted felon?


As long as you are not behind bars or under house arrest, you can vote in Montana.




What is the last day that I can register to vote?


You can register and vote up until - and even on - Election Day in Montana! October 26th, 2020 is the last day to register to vote by mail. Between October 27th, 2020 and November 3rd, 2020, you can register to vote in person.





General Questions

What precautions will be in place to protect voters from COVID?


Each county is setting their own policies on health and safety. These policies may include mask wearing, social distancing, and more. Contact your county election office to find out about the policies in your community.




Will the election be different this year?


Yes. Each county has been given the authority to decide whether to hold their election in a traditional way (with polling places) or to conduct a mail ballot election. Even counties with a traditional-style election are likely to experience changes this year, from relocated polling places to safety precautions like masks at the polls.




Which counties will open polling places?


Eleven of Montana's 56 counties decided to open polling places on Election Day (11/3). Those counties are listed below. Click on any county to learn more about polling place locations and other election services.

  1. Broadwater
  2. Carbon
  3. Chouteau
  4. Fergus
  5. Mineral
  6. Petroleum
  7. Powder River
  8. Powell
  9. Stillwater
  10. Treasure
  11. Wibaux




Which counties are holding a mail ballot election?


Forty-five of Montana's 56 counties decided to hold mail ballot elections. Those counties are listed below. Want to learn more about voting by mail? Check out the Vote By Mail section of the FAQs. Click on any county to learn more about in-person services and ballot dropbox locations. BEAVERHEAD BIG HORN BLAINE CARTER CASCADE CUSTER DANIELS DAWSON DEER LODGE FALLON FLATHEAD GALLATIN GARFIELD GLACIER GOLDEN VALLEY GRANITE HILL JEFFERSON JUDITH BASIN LAKE LEWIS & CLARK LIBERTY LINCOLN MADISON MCCONE MEAGHER MISSOULA MUSSELSHELL PARK PHILLIPS PONDERA PRAIRIE RAVALLI RICHLAND ROOSEVELT ROSEBUD SANDERS SHERIDAN SILVER BOW SWEET GRASS TETON TOOLE VALLEY WHEATLAND YELLOWSTONE




I haven't gotten my ballot yet. What should I do?


If you haven’t received your ballot by October 16th, log in to the Secretary of State's My Voter Page. Then, you’ll want to check three things: 1. Voting Status: In the section Voter Registration Information, look for the Voting Status line.

  • If it says ACTIVE, move on to check your address.
  • If it says INACTIVE, contact your county’s elections office. You are still registered to vote, but inactive voters are not automatically sent a ballot in counties that opted for a mail-ballot election. You will need to request that your county elections administrator mail you a ballot.
2. Ballot Sent to: In the section Absentee/Mail Ballot Tracking, check the Ballot Sent to line, which will tell you the address your ballot was mailed to.
  • If this line does not list your current mailing address, you may need to update your voter registration. You can update your voter registration up until - and even on - Election Day in Montana. Find more information on registering to vote here.
  • If your ballot was mailed to the correct address, move on to Step 3.
3. Status of Ballot: In the section Absentee/Mail Ballot Tracking, check the Status of Ballot line.
  • If this line says UNDELIVERABLE, your ballot was mailed but returned to your county elections office. Don’t worry, this happens! If you have an undeliverable ballot, you should contact your county elections office to make arrangements to receive your ballot.
If you are still unable to access your ballot, please call or text our voter hotline at 406-888-VOTE (8683) for further assistance.





This website was produced by Montana Voices.

Contact us at info@voteinMT.org.

Montana Voices is a civic engagement project committed to ensuring that every Montanan is able to participate fully in our democracy. Our mission is to collaborate on programs related to civic access, voting rights, voter modernization efforts, civic engagement and leadership development. Our mission is centered on engaging and empowering underrepresented communities, building sustainable power needed to eliminate barriers to civic participation, and guaranteeing that policy-making is guided by the public.