Many voters choose to be on permanent absentee list

The year 2010, regardless of how you say it, will bring with it another federal election cycle, says election administrator and Clerk and Recorder Janis Hoppes.

Although January may seem early to be preparing for June and November elections, the Pondera County election office is busy with early preparations.

Many voters in Pondera County, and throughout Montana, have chosen to be placed on the permanent absentee list.

There are certain responsibilities for both the election administrator and the voter who has made this choice.  In January of each year, it is the responsibility of the election administrator to mail a letter to each voter on the permanent absentee list.  It is the responsibility of the voter to respond to the letter to verify that the address in the election administrator’s office is the correct mailing address or to provide a correct mailing address.

Often voters move or will be away from their regular mailing address during the election cycle and the confirmation letter ensures that the voter has the opportunity to specify the correct mailing address for each election.

If the voter does not return the letter, they are removed from the list for that year and the voter will need to re-register for the permanent absentee voter list.

“The confirmation letter has created the most confusion in this process,” says Hoppes.

For most people, the concept of the permanent absentee list is the same as a mail ballot election.  The difference, however, is that the permanent absentee list is only used in elections that have polling places, as the elections will be in 2010.

The ballot can only be mailed once the confirmation letter is received back from the voter.

The voter who signed up for the permanent absentee list can return the letter indicating they still want to receive an absentee ballot in the mail because they will be absent from the polling place on election day, or, return the letter indicating they wish to remain on the list, but do not want to receive an absentee ballot in 2010 but will be going to the polling place to vote.

It is the voter’s choice, but it does require a response from the voter.

In a mail ballot election, which Pondera County uses for city and special district elections, all active voters receive a ballot in the mail.  There are no polling places, so the voter does not have that choice.

In any event, voters who receive the letter in the mail asking them to confirm their mailing address and check their choices, are urged to return the letter to the election office.

If not, you may find yourself waiting for a ballot in the mail and none will be sent without a specific request.

Responding to the letter in January will result in the voter on the permanent absentee list saving time and confusion at election time

If an elector wishes to be placed on the permanent absentee list, he or she can complete a form available from the Election Administrator at the Courthouse or simply mail a request.

Requests to be placed on the permanent absentee voter list should be mailed to the Election Administrator at Pondera County Courthouse, 20 Fourth Ave SW, Conrad,  59425-2340.

The written request must include the elector’s name and address, date of birth and mailing address.

In addition, the elector must specify if they want to be on the permanent absentee list for either all the elections in which they are entitled to vote or for just the elections with federal offices.

If the elector chooses all elections in which they are entitled to vote, the school district clerks will be notified of the elector’s request.

All other elections in the county are administered by the Election Administrator for the County and the record of the request will be at the County.