Bullock uses veto power to call for mail-ballot voting

By Missoula Current

Gov. Steve Bullock on Friday issued an amendatory veto that could still allow counties to conduct Montana’s congressional election by mail ballot.

If the veto is upheld by the Legislature, state voters will receive an absentee ballot in the mail for the May 25 special election between Greg Gianforte and Rob Quist, who are both vying for Montana’s lone seat in Congress.

A mail ballot election is projected to save counties $750,000 and alleviate the difficulties of finding physical locations for precincts. It has the overwhelming support of most county elections officials.

“We can and should help more people participate in our democracy by streamlining government and saving taxpayers’ money,” said Bullock said. “I take seriously my responsibility to strengthen our democracy by helping make sure that more eligible citizens can participate in that democracy – not fewer.”

The veto also gives voters an opportunity to vote in person on election day, or during the 29 days prior at a county’s central election office or a satellite office.

“The right to vote, indeed the obligation as a citizen to vote, has no basis in partisan politics,” Bullock said. “It’s a sacred right, born in our Constitution.”

The governor’s amendatory veto will need approval from both chambers of the Legislature. While the Senate has consented to the mail-only ballot, House Republicans have successfully blocked the measure.