We are fortunate in Montana because we have many different voter resources available to us! This is an overview of frequently asked questions about registering to vote and voting. You can also find out more about the roles and responsibilities of different elected office with our Who’s Who in Politics.
Voter Registration Overview:
Who needs to register: If you are a new voter and have never registered, if you’ve moved since you last voted, or if it have not voted in the last two general elections: 2008 and 2010, then you need to get registered in order to cast you ballot and have your voice heard this election cycle!
How do I register: The easiest way is to look for a Montana Women Vote volunteer out in your community! We can help you register and also provide information on the upcoming elections. Contact us to find out where we’re going to be registering voters next.
You can also pick up a voter registration card at your local elections office or download one here. You need to either mail it in or drop it off in person at your local elections office, at least 30 days before the election. And thanks to a new change in the law, you can now sign-up for an absentee ballot right on your voter registration card, making it easier than ever!
However, even if it is within 30 day of the next election, you can still register and vote all the way up until 8pm on Election Day, but will need to head to your County Elections Office* in person to do so!
Ways to vote in Montana
1. Vote by Absentee Ballot – Take your time and vote absentee! The easiest way to get an absentee ballot is to sign-up when you register/re-register. Absentee ballots are mailed out 30 days before the election. Once you’ve marked your ballot, you must mail it or drop it off at your elections office in the security envelope provided. The ballot needs to arrive (not be postmarked) before 8pm on Election Day to be counted!
If you are registered, but want to vote absentee, you can sign up by filling out an application for absentee ballot. Pick up the application at your county elections office, or call the Secretary of State at 1-888-884-VOTE to request one to be mailed to you, or download one at the SOS website: http://sos.mt.gov/Elections/Absentee/. Return the application to your local elections office. Find our more information about voting absentee!
2. Vote early with same-day & Election Day voter registration – Now you can apply for an absentee ballot & vote at the same time instead of going to your normal polling place. As long as it is within 30 days of the election, you can go in person to your local election office*, usually in the county courthouse, apply for a ballot, and vote at the same time, after showing valid ID.
You can vote early starting 30 days before the election & up until noon on the Monday before the Election Day, and all day on Election Day. The only way to vote if you are not registered and it is within 30 days of an election is to go to your County Elections Office* and do same-day or Election Day registration.
3. Go to the Polls! You can always choose to vote in-person at your local polling place on Election Day!
* In some areas same-day and election-day voter registration is held outside of the County Elections Office, please double check for your county.
Frequently Asked Questions About Registering and Voting in Montana:
How will I know if I am registered to vote? After you register, you will get a registration card within about a month from the elections office. If you have registered in the past but don’t know if you are still registered, call your elections office.
How do I know if I am a U.S. Citizen?
A U.S. citizen is born in the U.S. or has been naturalized (“sworn in” as a citizen).
I am not yet 18 – can I still register?
You can register if you are 17 if you will be 18 by the next election.
Can I register with a P.O. Box? Do not list a P.O. Box as the “address where you live.” If you do not have a street address, use cross streets or another detailed physical description in the “where you live” section. You can list a P.O. Box or other address as the “address where you get your mail,” and your registration card will be sent there.
I am homeless – can I register? Yes, you just need to describe where you are primarily residing. You can list the address of a shelter, a detailed description of where you usually park your car or where you are camping on your registration card in the “address where you live” section of the card. This is important info to identify your voting precinct and district. If you have an address where you receive mail, list that as your “mailing address” so you can receive information from the elections office.
Do I have to choose a political party when I register? No. If/when you vote in the primary you can decide when you arrive at your polling place which party’s ballot you would like to complete.
I have moved – am I still registered? You are registered at your old address and should re-register. Updating your registration is even more important now with Vote by Mail.
I am a felon – can I register and vote? Yes, you can still vote even if you have been convicted of a felony, unless you are currently incarcerated in a penal institution. A pre-release center is not a penal institution.
If I register, am I permanently registered?
If you haven’t voted in the last two general elections – 2008 and 2010, then you are likely no longer registered and should re-register. If you want to be permanently registered, just make sure you vote every November!
Will I be called for jury duty? The jury pool is made up of registered voters, individuals with a Montana driver’s license, and those who have a state issued ID.
What happens when I register to vote? Within about a month you will receive a voter registration card in the mail that includes your polling place, precinct, legislative district, senate districts and ward. If you do not receive this please contact the county elections office. The elections office will also mail you a Voter Information Packet a few weeks before the election that gives balanced information on ballot referendum and initiatives. When you go to your polling place on Election Day your name will be on a list of registered voters, which allows you to get a ballot and vote.
Can someone help me when I go to vote?
Yes, you can bring a friend, relative, teacher, or parent, and can bring in notes, a vote guide, etc. You just can’t bring an employer. Don’t forget, you are allowed to bring your kids to the polls!
Do I need my voter registration card in order to vote? No. However, you do need a form of ID. This can be any current photo ID that shows your name (valid driver’s license, school ID, state ID, or tribal ID) or a current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, government check or other government document that shows your name and current address.
Do I have to vote for every item on the ballot? No. You can choose not to vote for a candidate position or an initiative. Your ballot will still be valid even if you leave an item blank.
How do I find out where to go to vote or what precinct, districts and wards I am voting for?
That information is on your voter registration card. If you do not have your card, you can call your local elections office for that information.
Looking for more voter resources? Contact us!