The Congressional Special Election is fast approaching on May 25. As of now, that means hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs for Montana counties.
The cost to replace Montana’s lone U.S. representative will fall on counties despite numerous attempts in the legislature to cut costs by conducting the election with only mail ballots.
However, there still might be a glimmer of hope. Last week, Governor Bullock issued an amendatory veto, which puts a mail ballot election back on the table. He suggested amending a simple election bill, what some lawmakers call a 'cleanup bill,' in order to get an all mail election discussion back on the House and Senate floors.
“Its theoretically, hypothetically possible for us to change the manner in which the election will be conducted. From a polling place election, to a mail ballot election,” said elections official Derek Oestreicher. “But it will be a monumental challenge not only for our office, but for the counties to accomplish that.”
However, time is running short. The amendatory veto would need to pass both the House and Senate before Friday. Technically, counties must submit their mail ballot election plans to the Secretary of State’s office 60 days out from an election. The amendatory veto changes that to 30 days out--in this case April 25. Counties would need to have ballots mailed by May 1.
This all comes after Senate Bill 305 died in committee and failed in a vote to get blasted on the House floor.
The House has yet to act on a Bullock's amendatory veto. Democrats say the House collectively received over 700 emails from constituents supporting the mail in election over the weekend. They say it’s the most on one single issue received this session.