FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 1st, 2016
CONTACT: Blair Fjeseth, (406) 444-2807 or (406) 439-2425
Secretary McCulloch Announces the Creation of Satellite Election
Offices on American Indian Reservations for 2016
Helena, MT— Secretary of State and Chief Elections Officer Linda McCulloch announced today the establishment of five satellite election offices with the potential of more on American Indian Reservations in Montana for the upcoming 2016 elections. This follows a directive issued by the Secretary in October, ordering counties to provide satellite offices if necessary to ensure compliance with the Federal Voting Rights Act.
Satellite offices offer services that are otherwise only available to voters at the county headquarters, namely late registration and in-person absentee voting, which are available in the 29 days preceding the election.
“These offices will ensure American Indians’ ability to participate effectively in the electoral process is protected. I applaud the counties and Tribes that have worked together to create expanded access to the voting process; this type of collaboration is what makes Montana a great state to live in,” Secretary McCulloch said. “I have long been an advocate of expanding voting access on Reservations, and will continue to work with counties and Tribes to make them successful.”
Under the collaborative agreements, Tribes have agreed to provide office space and certain basic services such as phone and internet, and counties have agreed to devote county staff and resources.
“This makes Montana a national leader in ballot access for American Indians,” McCulloch said. “Montana has one of the largest per capita American Indian populations, and we now have the greatest number of satellite election offices.”
As of Monday morning four counties have confirmed that they will be opening satellite offices to serve voters during the upcoming 2016 primary and general elections.
Big Horn County (opening two satellite offices)
In addition, Choteau, Pondera, Blaine, Lake, Hill and Valley counties are still in discussions with Tribal Governments.
Both Big Horn and Glacier Counties previously opened satellite offices to provide election services for the 2014 elections. Both counties are planning on re-opening their satellite offices again for this year’s Primary and General elections, with Big Horn indicating they will open a second satellite office in Busby for the 2016 elections.
“The right to vote is monumentally important and is one of the things the Voting Rights Act protects for minority populations,” Secretary McCulloch said. “I’m committed to ensuring there are no barriers to the elections process for any Montanan, and applaud each of Montana’s county election administrators for the work they do to keep our elections secure, accurate and accessible to all voters.”