HELENA — For the first time in 10 years, the 2024 elections will feature new boundary lines for Montana legislative races – and that means counties have had to redraw precinct lines.
“Because the House and Senate district lines changed so dramatically from what Helena had before, we pretty much had to redraw almost all of our precincts from scratch,” said Connor Fitzpatrick, Lewis and Clark County’s elections supervisor. “Big shoutout to our GIS department for helping us out on that.”
Counties create precincts as a basic geographical unit for conducting elections. They generally follow boundaries like legislative district lines, so that all or most voters in a precinct are voting on the same races. Precincts also determine which polling places voters go to.
Lewis and Clark County election officials say they plan to mail out new voter confirmation cards next week, with updated precinct and polling place information.
“While only 20% of the voters in Lewis and Clark County are polling place voters, we also want to make sure that they're able to find their polling place on Election Day – presidential election, it's super important,” said Fitzpatrick. “A lot of people have asked us already, ‘Hey, where's my polling place?’ Well, yeah, let's help you out. Let's show you where it's at.”
Fitzpatrick says they tried to keep as many voters’ polling places the same as they could, but some are going to see changes. Other voters may still go to the same location – like the Helena Civic Center or the Lewis and Clark County Fairgrounds – but they’ll need to go to a different table because their precinct has changed.
When you get your confirmation card, election officials also encourage you to check that your registration information is correct.
“If you need to update your registration, do so as soon as possible,” Fitzpatrick said. “It will save you having to wait in line at our office on Election Day itself. If you've moved in the past two to four years and you want to make sure that we have your updated address, feel free to give us a call.”
If you receive a card for a voter who no longer lives at that address, write “Return to Sender” on it and send it back. Fitzpatrick said they’re required to follow up with additional letters for any card that gets returned, so send them back as well.
“We can't do shortcuts,” he said. “We can't just go, ‘Okay, this bounced back once, this person's record is now canceled.’ We have to go through the whole process. So bear with us while we go through the whole process. Help us out on that by sending it back to sender, and help us keep the voter rolls clean.”
You can also find your precinct information by going to the Montana Secretary of State’s updated online voter portal.
You can reach the Lewis and Clark County Elections Office by phone at (406) 447-8339 or online. You can find contact information for other county election administrators on the Secretary of State’s website.