2022 is a mid-term election year—a national election that is in the middle of the Presidential term. Voters will be electing Representatives for all of the 435 US House seats, and one third of the US Senate seats. Montana will be electing two representatives for the first time since 1990. Montana’s will also be voting for all of the state legislature House seats and half of the state Senate.
We wanted to remind our readers of some of the important election-related dates coming up in 2022.
In January, the Montana Districting and Apportionment Commission will be begin soliciting citizen comments on how to divide the state into 100 legislative districts to reflect the changes in population documented by the 2020 census. While the new districts won’t take effect until the 2024 legislative races in Montana, this coming year is our opportunity to participate in the process by submitting public comment and proposed maps to the Commission. The Commission will put their recommended map out for final public comment in the fall, and will have their final map ready by January 2023.
In February and March, county election staff begin recruiting and training election judges. Montana’s election system depends on volunteers who work as election judges for a small payment and assist county election staff in helping us voters successfully cast our ballots. These election judges are friends and neighbors who take an oath to uphold the integrity of the election system. We honor these individuals, and the Clerks and Recorders and other county election staff that oversee the implementation of elections in Montana. Our elections have been safe and secure and will continue to be so in 2022 and into the future.
March 14 is the deadline for candidates to file to run for office. We need citizens willing to serve in public office for our democracy to thrive. We salute the many individuals who are willing run for office.
June 7 is our Montana Primary Election. Political parties use primary elections to “nominate” or choose the candidates they want to run in the general election. Usually the Republican or Democrat parties have candidates competing for their party’s nomination. In many states you have to pick a political party that you support when you register to vote. When you vote in the primary election you are given only the ballot for that one party. But in Montana we have “open” primaries. That means you don’t have to tell anyone which party you support. You can also change the party you support from one election to the next. In a primary election you vote for the candidates from only one political party. You will have to choose one party’s ballot to vote in the Primary, and you can only vote using that one ballot. Which party’s ballot you choose is not recorded.
November 8 is the general election. There are voter registration deadlines before both the primary and general elections. It is important for voters to check their voter registration status on the Secretary of State’s MyVoter web page about 30 days before each election to verify their voting information is correct. If a voter’s information is incorrect, they risk not being able to vote at a polling place or receiving their mail-in ballot.
2022 also marks the 50th anniversary of Montana’s Constitution, the document that gives Montana residents fundamental rights and establishes the rules under which Montana governs itself. Montana’s 1972 Constitution was heralded as the most democratic state constitution in the country when it was written, surpassing the US Constitution in establishing a government of the people, for the people, and by the people. We will be highlighting some of its important provisions in upcoming columns.
The League of Women Voters has been registering voters and providing non-partisan voting information for over 100 years. Membership is open to men and women, citizens and non-citizens over the age of 16. For more information about the Missoula League, go to our website: lwvmissoula.org