My position on HB 305

To the Editor,

HB 305 generated a good amount of controversy this legislative session. There are some voters that had asked about my position on this bill, I want to give my reasons for not supporting it.

First I would like to clear up several misconceptions. Without the bill people can still vote by mail by requesting an absentee ballot. Not supporting the bill has nothing to do with so called voter suppression, it's passage would have actually made it more difficult for some people to vote. Unless you are willing to drive your ballot to the court house you would not be able to vote the day of the election, or possibly even the day before the election. This doesn't affect the voters that live in or near Red Lodge but it does affect those that live in the outlying areas. In the more rural counties there is an even greater distance to drive and more sporadic mail service.

All the Legislators from the neighboring Crow Reservation were strongly opposed the mail in only option as many of their tribal members do not have consistent access to mail.

I received some questions as to why it was heard in the Judiciary committee. There were constitutional concerns that if some counties were to choose mail in only ballots, and other counties did a regular polling place/absentee election, it would arguably create uneven voter access across the state. A lawsuit could cloud the legitimacy of the election outcome.

There was an organized effort statewide to push for mail only ballots. The main reasons stated for this measure was the decrease in cost and the increased accessibility for a mail only election. While there would likely be a few thousand dollars in saving to the county should it go to mail only ballots, the cost is more than offset by the ability for voters to vote locally at the polls. Also the main cost of this special election was to train election judges and staff the polling places. I would encourage members of the community that are concerned about the cost of elections to volunteer their time for these positions. As for accessibility, anyone can request a absentee, and allowing for polling places can only make voting more accessible.

While I understand that an unforeseen election is taxing on the county budget, if the voters really want to move towards a new voting system that does away with polling places that is a separate issue. We should have that conversation on it's own merit rather than trying to push the measure through during a special election that already on a very short timeline and is confusing to some voters.

If we want to have a conversation about this being a politically driven debate, then we will have to talk about why the election was scheduled by the governor for the Thursday before a holiday weekend, rather than putting it on the normal first Tuesday of June.

I hope to see you all at the polls on May 25.

 

Sincerely,

Representative Seth Berglee

Joliet

 

Upcoming Events

  • Monday, November 20, 2017 - 7:00pm
    Joliet Group meets at the Community Center Monday at 7 p.m.
  • Tuesday, November 21, 2017 - 7:00pm
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