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The Gallatin County Commission is applauded for deciding to go with mail-in ballots for the upcoming election. The move will give those most at risk of serious complications from the coronavirus the option of voting without fear of infection at crowded polling places. And it also affords the opportunity to vote in person for those who choose to do so.

The decision was not without controversy. As with so much in these most unusual of times, mail-in voting has become absurdly politicized. Perceptions are that mail balloting increases voter turnout, and higher voter turnout favors Democrat candidates over Republicans. But that has been thoroughly debunked. Utah, a decidedly red state, and four other states have been conducting election by mail for years with no evidence the practice favors either party.

Others have alleged mail voting leads to voter fraud. But absolutely no evidence has been produced to show any significant amount of fraud in states where mail-in ballots are the norm. Even here in Gallatin County a number of recent elections for bond issues have been successfully conducted without incident.

But the issue has been so politicized it has been alleged the current head of the Postal Service was appointed specifically to slow down mail delivery and jeopardize the conduct of mail balloting. The mere suggestion of postal delays should serve notice to all voters to think ahead.

Those who choose to vote by mail should mark their ballot and put it in return mail as soon as possible after receiving it. Postal officials have said the ballots will go directly to the county and not through a processing hub like Billings as most mail does. In the alternative, voters can put their ballots in any one of many drop boxes commissioners say will be place around the county.

And you can track your ballot after it has been sent by going to https://app.mt.gov/voterinfo/. Take a photo of the ballot once you’ve filled it out and make sure it has been counted through the tracking process.

The mail ballots go out Oct. 9. That’s just seven weeks from now and it’s not too soon to be thinking about it.

Fill out your ballot thoughtfully based on reliable information – not attacks or social media posts. And return it early to be sure it gets counted.

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Editorial Board

  • Mark Dobie, publisher
  • Nick Ehli, managing editor
  • Bill Wilke, opinion page editor
  • Richard Broome, community member
  • Renee Gavin, community member
  • Will Swearingen, community member
  • Angie Wasia, community member

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