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Election Facts

Montana Secretary of State

Election Facts

Montana elections are safe, secure, and transparent.

  • Be a U.S. citizen;
  • Be at least 18 years of age on or before the next election;
  • Be a resident of the county for at least 30 days prior to the next election;
  • Not be serving a sentence in a penal institution;
  • Not be adjudicated to be of unsound mind.
  • Montana elections utilize paper ballots.
  • Paper ballots are the source materials used during the Postelection Audit to confirm the results of a voting system.
  • Paper ballots are also the source materials used during a recount in a contest.
  • Election administrators shall follow the procedures in §13-2-220, MCA, every year regarding maintenance of active and inactive voter registration lists.
  • A voting system may not be used for an election in Montana unless the system has been tested and certified by the U.S. Federal Election Assistance Commission and approved by the Secretary of State.
  • No more than 30 days prior to an election in which a voting system is used, the election administrator shall publicly test and certify that the system is performing properly. See 13-17-212, MCA.
  • The Secretary of State's administrative rule, adopted by Secretary Christi Jacobsen, prohibits any type of component that is used within a voting system defined in 13-1-101, MCA, shall not be connected to a computer network at any time.
  • If they choose, Montana voters may skip a contest on their ballot. This "undervote" will not invalidate the ballot. However, voting for more than allowed on a contest is considered an "overvote". Overvotes are not included when the ballot is tabulated.
  • Montana counties may purchase voting systems only after they have been tested and certified by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission and approved by the Montana Secretary of State.
  • Montana law provides the provisions for when a mail ballot election is authorized or prohibited.
  • Pursuant to §13-19-104, MCA, the following elections may not be conducted by mail ballot:
    • a regularly scheduled federal, state, or county election;
    • a special federal or state election, unless authorized by the legislature; or
    • a regularly scheduled or special election when another election in the political subdivision is taking place at the polls on the same day.
  • Within 14 days after the election:
    • the County Canvass Board declares elected the individuals having received the highest number of votes cast for each county-certified office and proclaims the adoption or rejection of county ballot issues.
  • Within 27 days after the election:
    • the State Canvass Board declares elected the individuals having received the highest number of votes cast for each state-certified office and proclaims the adoption or rejection of statewide ballot issues.
  • If a voter changes mailing or residential addresses, they must notify the county election office.
  • If a voter changes their name (for example: marriage, divorce, adoption, etc.) they must notify the county election office.
  • A voter may notify the county election office directly or  via the Department of Justice, Motor Vehicle Division (Fill out and sign a registration form when you apply for or renew your driver’s license or Montana ID).
  • Montana voters are not required to declare a political party affiliation.
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