BILLINGS — Americans observed National Voter Registration Day Tuesday, the holiday celebrated since 2012 that raises awareness on voter registration. Here's a rundown on the registration process and important dates for residents in Yellowstone County.
On Nov. 3, all eyes will be on the general election that will decide the next U.S. President and a host of other state and local leaders. It's important to check your registration early, so you're not scrambling at the last minute, said Dana Corson, Montana Director of Elections and Voter Services.
"This election season, we may not see many people at the polls due to COVID-19, but by getting your voter registration applications in sooner rather than later if there's problems or questions about your application, at least you will have time to resolve those prior to the election rather than trying to scramble the day of the election," Corson said.
Last week, there were 98,828 people registered to vote in Yellowstone County, Corson said. That number has climbed to 99,216 people by the end of Tuesday. Corson said it's normal to see a rise in registered voters ahead of the general election.
“That’s not atypical by any means. It’s been climbing since the primary election. And most recently in August, we’ve seen a lot of efforts by third party folks to get voters registered. It seems to be a little bit more activity than I’ve seen compared to 2018 for example,” Corson said.
In Montana, you can not register to vote online. A person must fill out a voter registration application and either mail or physically bring it in to the county elections office.
“It’s good control to have paper (applications) just like it’s good control to have paper ballots. The audit-ability and the responsibility of the county and as to what the voter’s wishes were for the what the changes were are all recorded, captured and maintained by the county," Corson said.
To view and print the form, click here. The application can also be obtained in person from the elections office.
To check your voter registration and see if your mailing address is correct, visit the state's My Voter page by clicking here. County-specific information for polling places and other important dates can be found on the Montana Secretary of State's web site by clicking here.
In Yellowstone County, the general election will be all-mail and regular polling places will not be open. Starting Oct. 2, the Yellowstone County Elections Office will move to MetraPark in Billings.
Past Oct. 2, MetraPark is the place to go for election or voter business.
Yellowstone County in person early voting also begins Oct. 2. People can pick up a ballot at the elections office during regular business hours through noon on Nov. 2 and again on election day from 7 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Yellowstone County mail ballots will be sent out Oct. 9. Inactive voters or voters that have moved need to fill out another registration form and return it to the elections office to receive a ballot.
Regular registration for Yellowstone County closes at 5 p.m. on Oct. 26. If you have your registration form in by this date, you will be automatically be mailed a ballot.
Late registration in Yellowstone County begins on Oct. 27. If you aren't registered by this date, registration applications must be delivered in person to the elections office in order to receive a ballot. Oct. 27 is also the last day to drop a ballot in the mail for it to arrive at the elections office on time.
On election day Nov. 3, ballots can be physically delivered by the voter to the actual Yellowstone County Elections Office inside the County Courthouse at 217 North 27th Street or the Montana Pavilion at MetraPark.
Fore more information about the general election in Yellowstone County, view an important dates sheet prepared by the elections office by clicking here.