Montanans to Decide on Voter Registration This November - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Montanans to Decide on Voter Registration This November

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MONTANA -

The future of voter registration practices in the state is in voters hands this November. A referendum on this year's ballot suggests changing the voter registration deadline to 5 p.m. the Friday before election day.

For 9 years, Montanan's have enjoyed the ease of same day voter registration, but election administrators here in the Gallatin County say it causes administrative chaos and slows down the voting process for both voters and election officials.

From an election office point of view, administrators says same day registration creates frustration not just for them but for the eager voters awaiting the results.

"On election day with same day registration the lines are really long and the results don't come in as quickly as people like," says Charlotte Mills, election administrator for the Gallatin County. "The late reporting comes in because we don't release them until the last person has voted. So if the last person votes at midnight, first results will be out about around 12:15 or 12:30."

Last year the measure's sponsor, State Senator Allan Olson, led a Republican majority legislature to put Montana's voting registration practices to a vote after hearing of the administrative obstacles same day registration creates for election officials.

Since same day registration was signed into law back in 2005, more than 29,000 voters have registered and voted on election day, a large portion of whom have been the elderly and veterans.

But if the referendum passes this November, there's concern that voter turnout will noticeably decline.

"I think we would have less people voting and it's an advantage to have people register as people are voting on that day," says Bozeman resident Cheryl Bennett. "The more people voting the better off we are, so I would certainly vote against it."

If the referendum does pass, Montana will be the first state with same day voter registration to repeal the law.

But at least for this year, Montanans are still able to walk up to the polls and register on election day to decide on next year's registration practices.


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