Next week Ryan Zinke is expected to be confirmed as Secretary of the Interior which will trigger a special 90 day election. Elections Administrators are concerned that they don’t have enough money and they would like to use a mail-only ballot for this election. Missoula Elections Coordinator Rebecca Connors explains.

“We saw this coming on the horizon in late December,” said Connors. “Election Administrators across the state took a big gulp because we thought ‘oh my gosh’ where are we going to find the money to conduct this election. Elections are not subsidized by state or federal agencies, it is 100 percent on the tax payers. Especially in Missoula County, the polling place elections will cost upwards of $230,000.”

According to Connors, the cost of polling places is high and their use is going down.

“There were 62,000 ballots that were cast,” Connors said. “44,000 of those were via absentee, those were via mail. We had less than 17,000 that were done at the polling places, but that is a presidential election so we are going to have a higher turnout that we are going to see in an election for that. We had less than 8,000 for the June primary.”

The issue of moving to a mail-only ballot has become national news recently after Montana Republican Party Chairman Jeff Essman made comments indicating that decision would give democrats an “inherent advantage.”

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