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Whoever you like in the race, register and vote


September 7, 2018

Never in a million years did I think I would be asking so many people in this area if they were registered to vote. And never did I imagine finding people not interested in doing so. Truth be told, when I started ringing doorbells, I thought the only people I may find needing to register would be those new to the area or people just turning 18. Especially here.

Montanans take pride in what is happening in their communities, their state and the nation. We are a passionate group, many of us with generations in our families who have called this area home.

As a fourth-generation Montanan myself, I was raised with the understanding that I not only get to vote, but that voting is a privilege never to be passed up.

Sure, I may have been immersed in politics more than most. My great-grandfather was in the Montana House of Representatives, my dad, a very active Republican, campaigned for a district Senate seat here on the Hi-Line, and now I am going door-to-door for Paul Tuss, the Democratic candidate for Senate District 14 who is facing incumbent Republican Sen. Russ Tempel of Chester.

In the past seven months, I alone have knocked on just under 1,000 doors (so far). I carry with me a clipboard, Montana voter registration forms, absentee ballot forms and leave behind a flier with information about the candidate. One of the first questions I ask is “Are you registered to vote?” and, luckily, most households answer yes. A majority of people are extremely kind, pleasant and willing to take time to answer my questions. But occasionally I do come across the door of an individual who is not registered to vote and often they explicitly say they are not interested in politics and have no desire to vote.

When I walk away from the homes of people who “don’t want anything to do with politics,” I usually think to myself, “Do you have children in our public schools? Do you not drive on these streets with so many potholes? Do you own a gun? Do you pay taxes? Have you never needed to go to a hospital? Have you ever gone through airport security? Or worried that mental health programs are going away in your area? Have you ever had a friend in the armed services or who is now a veteran?” Whether we realize it or not, politics play a role in our everyday lives.

Voting is important. People have fought and died for us to have this right. It’s important and as my parents taught me, it’s a privilege. Many people in many countries would do anything to have this opportunity. I would like you all to encourage your friends, family and neighbors to vote.

Consider getting an early absentee ballot so you have time to research who or what is on the ballot and even mail it in early. Voter registration should take place by 5 p.m. 30 days in advance of the Nov. 6 election. However, you can “late register” all the way up until the close of polls on election day at your county election office, as long as you have lived in Montana for at least 30 days. Remember, you can also register to vote when you get your new driver’s license. Individuals can access voter registration and absentee voting forms online at the State of Montana site at https://sosmt.gov/elections/vote/ or get them at their county election office.

This isn’t a partisan concern. I care about Montana. And if you care, vote.

Shantel Cronk



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