That’s a decline from the 2018 midterm elections, when 8,053 voters submitted their registration on Election Day, according to data from the Secretary of State’s office. For the 2016 presidential election, that number was 12,055.
The 2014 midterms saw 4,677 same-day voter registrations across the state, and in 2012 there were 8,053.
For election administrators, that’s a lot of potential instances on Election Day that they’ll have to explain to residents why they won’t be able to vote. The Montana Association of Clerk and Recorders did not take a position on HB 176, but Regina Plettenberg, the group’s legislative director and the top election official in Ravalli County, said her counterparts across the state will be especially focused on getting information about the changes out to voters ahead of the next elections.
“I think there’s going to be a lot of voter education,” Plettenberg said Monday. “This is going to be something new, and voters are going to want to be sure before these big elections.”
Even already-registered voters could hit a snag on Election Day, if they moved to a different precinct or county since the last election and neglected to update their voter information. Previously, they would have been able to simply re-register in their new county or precinct, but now their only option will be to return to their old precinct in order to cast their ballot. Montana allows residents to vote one last time in their previous precinct after they move.