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Our View: Three cheers for mail-in voting


November 4, 2013

Tuesday is election day, and Havre residents will be making some important decisions on the future of the city.

Mayor Tim Solomon and former Mayor Bob Rice are vying for the mayor’s position, and newcomer Matt Boucher and Karen Datko are running for a City Council seat from the fourth ward.

Voters will also decide whether they want to dump the traditional party elections for nonpartisan voting for city offices.

Most people who are interested, we suspect, have already cast ballots under Montana’s mail-in ballot system for municipal elections.

If you haven’t voted, please vote. It would be best at this point to hand-deliver your ballot to the Clerk and Recorder’s Office in the Hill County Courthouse.

If you haven’t registered to vote, you can do so until 8 p.m. Tuesday.

It’s pretty easy to vote in municipal elections. You don’t even have to go to the polls on a certain day during certain hours.

You just need to return your ballot in the mail on time.

You don’t feel pressured to hurry up and make your decision. You have time to mull your choices.

Most important, the mail-in ballots means that more people vote. Turnout has been higher in each election since mail ballots were introduced. Maybe we’re old-fashioned, but we think it is good for democracy when more people vote.

Every time there is a change in the way we conduct elections, there is a massive effort by the pundits to determine if it will result in more votes for Democrats or Republicans. We could care less. More people vote, and this method is more convenient for voters.

Besides, pundits have to be scratching their heads at the Havre experience.

Sometimes, Democrats have won elections. Sometimes Republicans have overcome the odds in this Democratic stronghold and won.

Don’t worry. If, as expected, voters approve nonpartisan elections, people won’t have partisan reasons to be for or against mail voting.

Partisan effects aside, there is no reason to stop mail voting, and no reason not to expand it to state elections.

The state Legislature should act in its 2015 session to let votes have this convenient method in future elections.


Reader Comments

OldGreyGoose writes:

What exactly would you like the 2015 Legislature to do? Montana is already an no excuse mail ballot state. This means ANY registered voter can get a mail in ballot. Many voters already do this. I know that this is an opinion piece and not an investigative piece but with about 45 seconds of research on the website of the Secretary of State I discovered that 58.93% of the ballots voted in the 2012 general election were voted by mail.


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