Tuesday is Election Day, and the Missoula County Elections Office reminds voters who have yet to mail their ballots that 15 drop-off locations will be open until 8 p.m.
It's too late to send a ballot by mail.
In Missoula, this fall’s ballot includes a variety of issues for voters to decide, including a pair of 20-year bond requests from Missoula County Public Schools. The $88 million elementary bond and $70 million high school bond would pay for deferred maintenance, technology and security improvements, and renovation and remodeling at every MCPS school.
The elementary bond would increase taxes on a $200,000 home by $144 per year, and the high school bond would increase taxes by $72 per year. Property owners in the elementary district would pay both tax increases if the measures pass.
One seat in each Missoula City Council ward is also up for election in Tuesday's balloting.
Bill Murray and Heidi West are on the ballot for Ward 1; Jack Rowan and Harlan Wells in Ward 2; Ben Hart and Gwen Jones in Ward 3; John DiBari and Patrick Weasel Head in Ward 4; Julie Armstrong and Chase Callen in Ward 5; and Rick Browne, Michelle Cares and Michael Ellsworth in Ward 6.
Frenchtown School District has a five-year, $150,000-per-year building reserve levy on the ballot, which would be used for infrastructure improvements and repairs at its school buildings. The levy would increase the taxes on a $200,000 home by $36.30 per year.
Ballots for the mail-in election were sent out in early October, and must be returned by 8 p.m. on Tuesday. Ballots postmarked Tuesday, Nov. 3, will not be accepted.
Election Day ballot drop-off locations include the Missoula County Fairgrounds and the county courthouse, as well as all MCPS elementary schools and Big Sky High School. There will also be drop-off locations at the University Center at the University of Montana, Hellgate Elementary School and the Frenchtown Fire Station. All drop-off locations will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Voters who need a replacement ballot or are interested in same-day voter registration or who have a change of address can do so at the elections center at the Missoula County Fairgrounds on Tuesday.
Rebecca Connors, elections administrator with the Missoula County Elections Office, said those people will be given a provisional ballot that won’t be counted until Monday to ensure they only voted a single time.
All Election Day drop-off locations include ADA-accessible AutoMark voting machines, and the fairgrounds will also have a drive-through drop-off lane.
While there are 14 ballot drop-off locations in Missoula and one in Frenchtown, there are no Election Day drop-off locations set up outside of town for residents voting on the MCPS high school bond.
Voters in the Seeley Lake, Lolo, Condon, Clinton, Bonner, Evaro and Potomac-Greenough areas who have yet to mail in their ballots will have to bring them to Missoula by 8 p.m. Tuesday.
Connors said the locations of drop-off centers are chosen by the entities conducting and paying for elections, not by her office. The city and MCPS are splitting the cost of the Missoula drop-off locations on Tuesday and other costs associated with holding an election.
“The city names the ones they want and the school did the same,” she said.
Connors said if MCPS chose to have a drop-off location outside of the city that did not also serve municipal election voters, it would have to pay the costs for that location.
Hatton Littman, director of technology and communications with MCPS, said the decision on where to have drop-off locations on Election Day largely came down to the cost.
“It costs us as a district to run an election. We’ve been encouraging residents that live in the county to vote and mail in their ballot,” she said.
Connors said more drop-off locations would mean paying a polling place manager, at $14 per hour, as well as an election judge, at $8.05 per hour, from 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. There are also three routes of ballot delivery personnel operating on Tuesday, each of which includes two election judges and reimbursement for mileage.