Once again this year, voters won't be going to the polls to elect a new mayor or city councilperson in Missoula, they'll just head out to the mailbox.

Since 2007, municipal elections have been conducted through the mail, a popular move with both voters and city officials, according to chief deputy of the county elections office Rebecca Connors.

"The city has opted for mail ballot elections since 2007," Connors said. "The city council passed a resolution as well this past summer, and their decision was based on the fact that there is significant cost savings for the city, nearly $20,000 in cost savings."

The city conducted a survey prior to the 2007 election, and the results were overwhelmingly in favor of using mail-in ballots. Connors said on Tuesday, September 17, that the ballots will be mailed several weeks prior to the election.

"Everybody is mailed a ballot who is active or provisional, and we are expecting to mail out between 40,000 and 50,000 ballots," Connors said. "Since everyone is mailed a ballot, it does result in higher voter turnout."

Connors said voter fraud is minimized because each voter's signature is closely scanned for proper identification.

"Voting credit is based on the person's signature," Connors said. "We do have instances where we have to reject ballots because the signatures don't match. Our office goes through years of voter signature images, and our workers are trained to match signatures with what's on the voter profile."

Connors said reliable technology has been used for years to properly scan the ballots and voters signatures.

"We use the 650 model optical scanners, and they have been used since 1982 to read the ballots, and through all of the recounts that our office has had, they have all been upheld, and have all been checked with what the machines have said," Connors said.

Chief Deputy of the County Elections Office Rebecca Connors