How to Vote at the Polls in Montana
Remember to bring your ID!
Your voter registration card lists the location of your neighborhood polling place. If you've misplaced your card, you can check your voting status here; you’ll be able to find out if you are registered to vote, where you are registered to vote, the location of your polling place, your House and Senate districts, and the status of your absentee ballot. You can also call your local election administrator to find out where to vote.
If you're unable to drive to the polls yourself, you have several options:
- You can vote by mail.
- You can catch a ride with a friend or neighbor.
- You can get a ride from one of numerous organizations and agencies that offer voter transportation. Call your local election office to find out who is providing transportation in your community.
When you enter your polling place, an election judge will greet you, ask your name, and confirm that you are registered to vote in that precinct. He or she will also ask you to show identification. This can be any current photo ID that shows your name (for example, a valid driver's license, school ID, state ID, or tribal ID) or a current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, voter confirmation notice, government check or other government document that shows your name and current address.
If you do not have any of the identification forms listed above, you can still vote by requesting and filling out a ‘Polling Place Elector ID’ form. But remembering your ID will make the process go faster!
Next, the election judge will ask you to sign next to your name in the precinct register. A second election judge will give you your ballot and explain how to mark it and what to do with it once you've finished voting.
Then you'll enter a private voting booth to mark your ballot. There's no need to hurry. Take time to think about your choices, and be sure to follow the directions for marking your ballot. If you forget the instructions given to you by the election judge, you'll find them posted in the voting booth or printed in the materials given to you with your ballot.
If you feel uncertain about how to vote, you can visit your county election office any time before the election and get a lesson.
You are not required to vote in every race or on every issue listed on the ballot. On the other hand, if you vote more than once in a race where only one choice is allowable, your vote in that race will not be counted. Be sure you turn your ballot over and check to see whether any races are printed on the back.
If you damage a ballot or want to change the way you've voted, take the spoiled ballot to an election judge and exchange it for a new one. Don't try to erase; with machine-counted ballots especially, erasures may result in your ballot being disqualified.
When you've finished marking your ballot, fold it or place it in the secrecy folder given to you with the ballot so that your choices are concealed. Then hand your ballot to the appropriate election judge.
Individuals with a disability:
Every polling place in Montana is required to have at least one specialized voting machine that enables people with disabilities to vote independently and privately. An election judge will show you how to use this machine. You can use these machines alone to mark your ballot, or you can ask an election judge or a friend or relative, with the permission of the election judge, to help you mark your ballot. For more information, visit the SOS web site.
If you are instructed to cast a Provisional Ballot:
You may be instructed to cast a ‘provisional ballot’ by the election judge if you are provisionally registered, do not have an acceptable ID and do not fill out the ‘Polling Place Elector ID’ form, have lost or never received your absentee ballot, or for other reasons. In such cases, you will be allowed to complete a ballot, but the ballot will only be counted if you provide the necessary information to the county election office by 5 pm the day after the election, or mail the information to the county election office postmarked by the day after the election. Your polling place election judge can provide you with additional information.
If you arrive at the wrong polling place:
If the election officials at the polls determine that you are at the wrong polling place you have several options:
- If you arrive at the polling place and are told that the address you provide does not match what is in the register because your residence within the county has changed, you may fill out a card to update your information, and vote one time at that precinct and polling place.
- You can go to the precinct and polling place where you are currently registered to cast your ballot.
- You can go to the county election office, update your registration information and cast a ballot there.
In case of illness or emergency:
If you request an absentee ballot because of a sudden illness or health emergency occurring between 5 p.m. of the Friday preceding the election and noon on election day, you may ask your county election administrator to have a special absentee election board bring an absentee ballot to you.