Montana Secretary of State

Frequently Asked Questions

If you have a question that is not listed in the FAQs below, contact the Elections Division at [email protected] or call 888-884-VOTE.

Q. What are the dates of the federal primary and general elections?

A: A federal primary election is held every even-numbered year on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in June. A federal general election is held every even-numbered year on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. Presidential elections are combined with congressional, statewide, state district, and county elections.

The 2022 federal primary election will be held on Tuesday, June 7th, 2022, and the 2022 federal general election will be held on Tuesday, November 8th, 2022.

Q. Where can I find polling place information and/or satellite location information?

A.  For polling place information and other voter-specific information, feel free to visit the My Voter Page service, https://app.mt.gov/voterinfo/. For a list of polling places and satellite locations for the upcoming or most recent federal election, visit Polling Places and Satellite Offices.

Q. What are the dates of municipal primary and general elections?

A. A municipal primary election, if necessary, is held every odd-numbered year on the first Tuesday after the second Monday in September. A municipal general election is held every odd-numbered year on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

Q. Where can I find out information about school elections?

A. Visit the Office of Public Instruction website at http://opi.mt.gov/Leadership/Finance-Grants/School-Finance/Elections.

Q. What are the deadlines for the close of regular registration for the federal primary and general elections?

A. Regular registration closes 30 days before the election, however, you can still register and vote in the election by late registration at your county election office or designated location until noon the day prior to the election.

Q. Do I have to vote in a primary election in order to vote in the general election?

A. No.

Q. Which parties are qualified for primary access in Montana? Is there party registration in Montana? Can people in a primary election vote for more than one party’s candidates?

A. The list of Montana’s qualified parties is available on our website at: https://sosmt.gov/elections/parties.

There is no party registration in Montana. Individuals who vote in a primary election are given all the parties’ ballots, and can choose in private which party ballot they wish to vote. Voters in a primary election cannot vote more than one party’s ballots.

Q. How are Montana’s presidential electors chosen? 

A. The applicable laws and a complete list of Montana’s most recent presidential electors are available here.

Q. What ID do I have to show when I vote at the polls?

A. There are many identification options available. Visit the Voter ID webpage at https://sosmt.gov/voter-id for more information.

Q. What if I forget my ID when I vote at the polls?

A. If you do not have proper identification when you arrive at the polls, you can vote a provisional ballot.

Q. How do I obtain a copy of my Social Security Card?

A. For information on obtaining a copy of your Social Security Card click here.

Q. How do I register, update my registration, find out if my registration is still on file, or find out the location of my polling place?

A. For information about registering to vote, visit http://www.sosmt.gov/elections/vote.  You may also contact your county election administrator to register or update your registration or visit My Voter Page to find out if you are registered to vote, where you are registered to vote, the location and directions to your polling place, the status of your absentee ballot, and to view a sample ballot.

Voter Registration by County daily totals are available.

Q. What is late registration and what are the dates that it opens and closes?

A. Regular registration closes 30 days before any election. Late registration is an option for people who miss the regular registration deadline. It is available starting the day after the close of regular registration and ends at noon on the day before the election. Late registration must be done at the county election office (or at the location designated by the election administrator), not at a polling place.

Q. Are late registration totals available? What years are available?

A. Late registration totals from 2006 through the present are available.

Q. During statewide election years, when does candidate filing open? When does it close?

A. Candidate filing opens 145 days before the primary, and closes 85 days before the primary.

Q. News reports indicate that individuals have filed for office, but there are not yet any candidates listed on the Secretary of State’s website. Why is that?

A. Oftentimes candidates will announce their candidacies before the first date to file for office with the Secretary of State. In many cases, candidates file campaign paperwork with the Federal Election Commission (for federal offices) or with the Commissioner of Political Practices (for non-federal offices) before the opening of candidate filing with the Secretary of State.

Q. How do I find forms and information to run as a presidential, independent, write-in or minor-party candidate?

A. Information is on the SOS webpage at https://sosmt.gov/elections/information.  If you are interested in running as a presidential candidate, an independent, write-in candidate or as a candidate of a party that has not qualified for the ballot in Montana, or to form a political party, you may also contact Elections and Voter Services at (406) 444-9608 or by email at [email protected].

Q. How can individuals purchase the Voter File or an available extract?

A. Contact information for questions on the Voter File is below.

  • About the Service – Montana Interactive, 449-3468, x6357.
  • Technical Questions – Secretary of State IT, [email protected].
  • General Questions – Secretary of State Elections Division, [email protected].

Q. Does Montana have “early voting”? Does Montana have in-person absentee voting before election day? When does it start?

A. Montana does not have true early voting, but does have in-person absentee voting that allows electors, as soon as absentee ballots are available, to receive, mark and submit an absentee ballot in person at the election office or by mail to the election office. However, ballots are not counted until election day. Early-in person absentee voting does not require a reason and starts as soon as ballots are available – by not later than 30 days before an election.

Q. Who can vote absentee in Montana?

A. Since October 1,1999, any registered Montana elector who wishes to vote absentee in Montana may do so, without having to specify a reason.

Q. How do I request an absentee ballot?

A. Print an Application for Absentee Ballot from the Secretary of State website, fill it out, and drop it off at the county election office or fax or mail the form to your county election office.

Q. When are the first and last days to request an absentee ballot?

A. There is no earliest day to apply for an absentee ballot. An application for absentee ballot must be received by the election office by noon the day before election day.

Q. What if I become ill and will not make it to the polls on election day?

A. If you request an absentee ballot because of a sudden illness or health emergency occurring between 5 p.m. of the Friday preceding the election and before close of polls on election day, you may ask your county election administrator to have a special absentee election board bring an absentee ballot to you.

Q. Can people request to be placed on an absentee list?

A. Yes. The Application for Absentee Ballot includes the option to receive ballots for subsequent elections.

Q. Are absentee turnout figures available? What years are available?

A. Absentee turnout from 2000 through the present is available.

Q:  What are the options for active duty military members, their family and overseas citizens who are eligible to register and vote in Montana?

A:  Within 46 days of a Federal Primary or Federal General election, Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) voters and their family members can register and request an absentee ballot with the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) by using the Secretary of State’s Electronic Absentee System (EAS).

  • Once the ballot is marked using the EAS system, UOCAVA voters can return it in email, mail or fax to the local county election office.

Outside of 46 days before a federal election, eligible UOCAVA voters can submit the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) from the Federal Voting Assistance Program at:  www.fvap.gov.

  • Fvap.gov also has tips on registration and voting as a UOCAVA voter, including information for voting by facsimile and online.
  • The FPCA form is used for voter registration, to update and activate an existing UOCAVA record and to request absentee ballots for all state and local elections in the upcoming calendar year.

Q:  When is the earliest date UOCAVA voters can request an absentee ballot?

A:  UOCAVA voters can submit the FPCA and request an absentee ballot at any time.  The FPCA is good for all eligible elections through the calendar year following the submission.

FVAP recommends all UOCAVA voters submit an updated FPCA every year.  You can submit the FPCA by doing the following:

  • Electronically fill out the FPCA form and email it to your local county election office, if you use the last 4 digits of your SSN or MT Driver’s License # or a Military CAC card, this can be used in lieu of a signature; or
  • Print the FPCA form, fill it out, sign and mail it to the county election office; or
  • Before you leave for active duty or move overseas, visit your county election office on weekdays 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. and submit a completed FPCA form.

Q:  What are my options if my absentee ballot won’t reach me or the county election office on time to be counted?

A:  UOCAVA voters can mark an electronic ballot for federal elections using the Secretary of State’s EAS system within 46 days of a federal election.  Or, you can contact the county election office for assistance or vote using a Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB).  FWAB’s will be counted if a regular absentee ballot is not received at the county election office before 8:00 p.m. on election day.  FWAB’s must be submitted on or before election day by 8:00 p.m.  and the county election office must receive it within 6 days after the election for it to be counted.

Additional information can be found at:  www.fvap.gov or 1-800-438-VOTE (8683)

Q. What kind of elections can be conducted by mail ballot?

A. Generally, any municipal (city or town) election or district election (school, fire, water and sewer, etc.) can be conducted by mail ballot, if agreed to by the governing body.

Elections that cannot currently be conducted by mail ballot include any regularly scheduled federal, state, or county elections; any special federal or state elections, unless authorized by the Legislature; or any regularly scheduled or special elections when another election in the political subdivision is taking place at the polls on the same day.

Q. How is a mail ballot election different than a non-mail ballot election?

A. In non-mail ballot elections, voters have the option to vote at the polls or request an absentee ballot. In mail ballot elections, all qualified active and provisionally registered voters are mailed ballots on the same day without having to request them.

Q. What if I am going to be absent during a mail ballot election – how do I still receive a ballot?

A. You may vote in person in the election administrator’s office as soon as ballots are available. Or, you can make a signed written request that the ballot be mailed to an address other than the address that appears on your registration application. The ballot will be mailed on the same day all other ballots are mailed.

Any such in-person or written requests must be accepted until noon the day before the ballots are scheduled to be mailed.

Q. What if I want to drop my mail ballot off rather than mailing it?

A. You always have the option to drop your ballot off at the county election office or, if available, at one or more alternative places of deposit chosen at the option of the election administrator. Any such places of deposit will be noted in your mail ballot materials.

Q. What kind of voting systems are available in Montana?

A. Voting systems must be certified to meet certain standards before they can be used in Montana.  Most counties use either precinct level tabulators called M100s or DS200s or central count tabulators, called M650s, DS450s, or DS850s. Some small counties do not use a vote tabulating system, but instead count ballots by hand.  All counties have available voter assist terminals called AutoMARKs for use by individuals with vision or mobility impairments.

Q. What is the difference between the types of tabulating methods?

A. There are three different types of tabulation methods used in Montana.  The first is a precinct tabulator, the second is a central count tabulator and the third is the manual hand count method.

A precinct level tabulating system involves a voter placing the marked ballot in either an optical scan (M100) or digital scan tabulation (DS200) machine at the polling place. The system will notify you of an undervote, which is an unvoted race or an unvoted ballot and will tell you if you have voted for too many choices in a race, also called an overvote. If you over vote, the machine will prompt you to either return your ballot to be corrected or submit your ballot as is. If there is no notification, or you choose to submit your ballot as is, the LCD screen on the machine count will increase by 1, indicating that your ballot has been counted.

A central count tabulating system gets its name because ballots are brought in from the surrounding precincts to be counted in a central location.  This ballot scanner quickly and accurately counts voted ballots.  When the machine detects an overvote or a write-in vote, the machine will notify the operator; these ballots are then manually verified.

The third way ballots are counted in Montana is via hand count.  Currently there are 10 counties that hand count.

If you would like to see how your county tabulates ballots, please visit this webpage.

Are there voting systems in Montana available to assist voters with a disability or physical limitation? 

Yes, the Secretary of State’s office has partnered with all 56 counties in Montana to offer both the ES&S AutoMARK™ or ExpressVote® ballot-marking technology that provides options for all voters including those who have a disability or physical limitations to mark and cast a ballot privately and independently.

  • If you cannot enter a polling place, election judges will assist you with “curbside voting.”
  • If you have a physical disability or are unable to read or write, you may ask an election judge to help you mark your ballot. Or, you can bring any individual (other than your employer or employer’s agent or union agent) who, with the permission of the election judge, can go into the voting booth with you and help you vote.
  • You may also designate an agent to assist you with the voting process on the Designation of Agent by Individual with Disability form. Deliver the signed application to your local election office.
  • You may apply for an electronic ballot that can be marked on your personal computer, printed and returned by mail or in person to the county election office.
  • The Voter Information Pamphlet published by the Secretary of State for each Federal General Election is available in braille, audio or large print formats.

What if I prefer not to use an AutoMARK™ or ExpressVote® ballot-marking system?

Using an AutoMARK™ or ExpressVote® to mark your ballot is optional; a person can choose to use it, regardless of disability status. If a voter with a disability chooses not to use an AutoMARK™ or ExpressVote®, the voter has the option to have either an election judge or an individual chosen by the elector (designated agent) assist the voter in marking their ballot.

    • The AutoMARK™ and ExpressVote® voter assist terminals are ballot-marking systems that use touch-screen technology to produce a paper record for tabulation. Both are designed to provide privacy and accessibility to all voters including those who are blind, vision-impaired, or have a disability or condition that makes it difficult or impossible to mark a ballot.  They are a universal voting system designed for use by all with an accessible keypad equipped with braille and the ability to use rocker panel and Sip-and-Puff devices.  As a compliant ADA voting solution, the AutoMARK™ or ExpressVote® allows both standing and seated voters the ability to mark and cast a ballot.

Detailed information on how to use an AutoMARK™ or ExpressVote® ballot-marking system can be found at: https://sosmt.gov/elections/disabilities.

Q. Where can I find out information about starting a statewide ballot issue petition or about current and past statewide ballot issues?

A. You can go to the following page on the Secretary of State’s website https://sosmt.gov/elections/ballot_issues for information about statewide ballot issues. (For information about past statewide ballot issues, scroll to the bottom of that web page or go to Archived ballot issues.)

For information about current statewide ballot issues, you can go to https://sosmt.gov/elections/ballot_issues/2018-2.

Q. Where can I go to find past election results, including information about votes cast for candidates and on statewide ballot issues, the number of polling places and precincts, and turnout by county?

A. Go to the following link: https://sosmt.gov/elections/results.

Q. On election night during the federal primary and general elections, where can I go for the latest election results?

A. You can go to the SOS website at http://mtelectionresults.gov for the latest unofficial results on election night.

Q. What agency should I contact if I have campaign questions and/or campaign finance questions?  Where do I file my campaign reporting forms?

A. For campaign and campaign finance questions, as well as questions about campaign reporting forms, please contact the Commissioner of Political Practices, http://politicalpractices.mt.gov/aboutus. The Federal Election Commission, http://www.fec.gov, has jurisdiction over campaign questions regarding federal races, such as congressional races.

Q. I am concerned about receiving automated calls, often called “robo calls.”  What should I do?

A. For information about automated calls, please see http://www.politicalpractices.mt.gov/Portals/144/5campaignfinance/RoboCallsHadout2017.pdf.

Privacy Preferences
When you visit our website, it may store information through your browser from specific services, usually in form of cookies. Here you can change your privacy preferences. Please note that blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience on our website and the services we offer.
X