GREAT FALLS — Cascade County election officials say that the June 2nd primary will be an all-mail ballot, due to continuing efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus).
As of Thursday morning (March 26), there are 71 cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in Montana, an increase of 18 since Wednesday morning. Click here for details.
The announcement comes after Governor Steve Bullock's request Wednesday asking officials in each county to consider the change.
Cascade County Clerk & Recorder Rina Fontana Moore says the average age of their election judges is around 80 years old; she made the decision after considering the health of the scores of judges they employ for elections.
Moore says they've seen anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 voters on primary and election days in past years and believes this is the best measure to protect everyone.
"To try to make sure that this the safest way to run the election that this is the best way to run the election,” she said. “That we don't have electors fearful of coming into the facility for fear that they'll contract the virus itself."
Montana ExpoPark will be set up on election day without polling stations.
People who lost their ballot or didn't receive one can stop by the elections office a week up until the election or stop by Exhibition Hall.
Below is the full news release from Moore:
Cascade County Clerk and Recorder/Election Administrator, Rina Moore announced today that the June 2nd primary election will be held by a mail only ballot.
Governor Bullock released a Directive Implementing Executive Order 2-2020 and3-2020 and providing measures to implement the 2020 J:ur:re primary election safely. Executive Orders 2-2020 and3-2020 declare a state of emergency in Montana due to the global outbreak of COVID19 Novel Coronavirus. The Montana Constitution requires purity of elections and guarding against abuses of the electoral process. Further, the constitution allows any citizen of the United States 18 years or older who meets the registration and residence requirements is a qualified elector.
As Cascade Counties Elected Election Administrator, I have a sworn duty to ensure all electors in this county have access to the voting process as prescribed by the Montana Constitution, law and rule. Therefore, the decision to conduct a mail only election is to ensure all qualified electors have access to the polling process and to protect the health, safety and welfare of our citizens, ernployees and our election judges.
"Montanans should never have to choose between their safety and their democracy," said Governor Bullock. "Fortunately, Montana already has a simple, clear, well-established set of procedures in law that govem mail elections."
Cascade County employs 110 temporary election judges, as required by law, to assist on election day at the certified polling locations. Many of these judges are in the CDC's high-risk age category for contracting the novel coronavirus and more likely to suffer a severe infection. It would be very difficult to implement social distancing guidelines when there are over 100 employees at the Expo Park central polling location, who will interact with 3000-5000 voters in a tightly confined space. Furthermore, 8270 of the electorate in Cascade County have already requested a mail ballot.
Therefore, at the direction of the Govemors Executive Orderc 2-2020 ar.d 3-2020, his letter dated March 25'2020, and to ensure all qualified electors have a safe and secure manner in which they may carry out their constitutional right to vote, but most importantly to protect the health, safety and welfare of all our employees and citizens ofCascade County the June 2'd primary will be held by a mail only ballot.