Billings, Montana – The Yellowstone County Commissioners are making improvements to the voting procedure.
Although several people had concerns about the length of time it took to hear the results of the election last year, modifications were made.
On Monday, some of those queries were answered by the commissioners and the election administrator.
The county intends to increase its workforce in order to support election security and integrity.
Election Day is the biggest day of the year for election officials, and Ginger Aldrich remembers the election of last November in particular.
It was her first as the brand-new elections administrator for Yellowstone County.
“People always want their election results quickly and it’s important that election results are accurate,” said Aldrich.
Aldrich claims that because she wanted to do everything correctly, there was a slight delay in publishing the results.
“We had new staff that had not gone through procedures before and so we wanted to ensure that anything we released to the public was accurate and it took a little bit more time to do that,” Aldrich said.
The county commissioners are expected to approve a contract on Tuesday to recruit Kevin Gillen, a former interim election administrator, to work for Aldrich. This means that Aldrich may soon have even more new employees.
“We asked her what she needed,” said Commissioner John Ostlund, R-Yellowstone County. “Kevin is the answer to one of those questions. Elections are important. They’re one of the most fundamental rights for American citizens and we want them to be correct.”
A group named Montanans In Action shares the same aspiration.
Peggy Miller is a part of the group that has various issues with elections, including ballot harvesting, which is when people gather and turn in other people’s ballots.
“We witnessed several people coming in really and ballot harvesting,” Miller said. “They had stacks of envelopes and they were bringing them in.
Also, the group wants to ensure that voter rolls are updated when someone passes away, a process that, according to Aldrich, can take up to six years due to federal rules.
“That is a method of protecting people who have the right to vote and not taking them off when they haven’t moved and that perhaps simply they haven’t responded to a notice,” Aldrich said.
She added that obituaries and death certificates can assist in removing someone from the voter registers more quickly.
Elections are usually in the news, but now more than ever as a county works to increase the process’ openness.
“There’s a lot of concern out there about integrity and transparency of elections and a strong desire to have that improves significantly in the future,” said Scott Simon, who is also part of Montanans In Action.
“We’re committed to transparency about what we’re doing and how we’re improving,” said Aldrich.