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Voting will look a little different in Libby this year

The Western News | November 2, 2021 7:00 AM

Lincoln County officials are reminding voters to be cognizant of procedural changes when casting their ballots on Election Day, especially following the construction of a local election center and the passage of new state voting laws.

Unlike in years past, Libby residents will no longer find polling stations in the Ponderosa Room at City Hall or in the county courthouse. To cast a ballot in-person for the municipal election, residents must visit the county’s new election center, according to Paula Buff, county election administrator.

The center is located in the basement of the Lincoln Courthouse Annex at 408 Mineral Ave. As of Oct. 29, Buff planned to stock the center with four polling booths.

While Libby is the only municipality in the county conducting a poll election, Troy and Eureka voters may cast their ballots at the election center due to an American Disabilities Act requirement.

In Troy, residents may drop off their mail-in ballots in a deposit box at City Hall. Officials also will accept ballot deposits at the election center.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Nov. 2.

When casting a ballot in-person, residents must bring a form of photo ID due to a new state law. Voters may present a Montana driver’s license, a passport, a concealed carry permit or state, tribal or military ID as a form of standalone identification.

Alternatively, residents can bring a photo ID that displays their name and a secondary form of ID, such as a current utility bill, bank statement, check or government document that includes their name and current address.

Despite Libby running a poll election, a majority of the municipality’s electorate has signed up to vote via absentee ballot. As of her last count, Buff said roughly 58 percent of Libby voters were registered as absentee voters on Oct. 29. She expected the figure to be higher given recent applications she hadn’t tallied.

As of Oct. 29, election officials had receipted 393 absentee ballots from Libby. Troy and Eureka residents had mailed in at least 153 and 104 ballots, respectively. Thanks to early mail-in votes, Buff expected ballot counting on Election Day to run smoothly.

She planned to begin tallying votes around 4 p.m., Nov. 2 and suspected preliminary results would be available within a few hours. By 10 p.m., election officials should have counted votes contained in the Troy deposit box. Residents who cast provisional ballots have until 5 p.m. on Nov. 3 to mail or provide county officials with valid identification information.

In this year’s Libby mayoral race, recently appointed Mayor Peggy Williams is running against City Councilor Hugh Taylor. Former challenger Kenny Rayome Jr. announced he was bowing out of the race last month. Due to Rayome’s late exit, his name will still appear on ballots but he has asked residents not to cast votes for him.

Incumbent councilors Gary Beach, Rob Dufficy, Kristin Smith and newly appointed Zach McNew and challengers Darrel “DC” Orr and Melissa Berke are contending for three open seats on the council.

In Troy, Mayor Dallas Carr and City Councilor Chuck Ekstedt are running for mayor. City officials called off the council race there after only two candidates filed for the two open seats.