HELENA, Mont. — The Montana Secretary of State’s Office joined members of the House State Administration Committee during a tour of the Lewis and Clark County Elections Office on Friday morning.
“I would like members of the committee to be able to learn about the process, ask questions, and gather more information about how Montana’s elections are conducted,” said Rep. Julie Dooling, the chair of the committee.
Lewis and Clark County officials discussed the election process, including the preparations that begin months in advance of Election Day. Legislators learned about the process of preparing absentee ballots and polling places, as well as the statutorily required procedures associated with both.
Election officials explained chain of custody, security processes – physical and cyber, and provisional voting procedures. They also described maintenance of the state’s voter registration list, which includes both state and federal requirements and is now performed annually following Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen’s request of Senate Bill 170 during the 2021 Legislative Session.
Representatives also volunteered to have their signatures verified, duplicating the process election officials follow in regard to absentee ballots.
Officials discussed the measures performed on Election Day, from the polling places to the election offices. Legislators learned more about the tabulation process, including pre-testing of voting systems and the post-election audit. County officials also demonstrated security seals, ballot reconciliation, and discussed canvassing.
Legislators also separated into groups of three to conduct a mock hand count of ballots. One legislator was tasked with reading the votes on the ballot, while the other two kept tally, which was required to match. It took legislators nearly 20 minutes to complete the hand count of seven ballots.Members of the House State Administration committee go through the process of hand counting test ballots at the Lewis and Clark County Elections Office.
According to Rep. Dooling, Friday’s visit was intended to bring education and perspective to members of the House State Administration Committee as it holds hearings on various legislation related to elections and procedures. The Secretary of State’s Office was also appreciative of the legislators for attending, asking questions, and gathering more education on Montana’s electoral process.
“Thank you to the members of the Lewis and Clark County Elections Office for explaining the process and answering questions for our legislators,” said Secretary Jacobsen. “Thank you to Chair Dooling and the members of the House State Administration committee for seeking knowledge about elections and voting, and for sharing that information with their constituents.”