Montana Resources for Voters with Disabilities

What are my rights as a voter with a disability in Montana?

In Montana, you have the right to the following as protected by federal law. Election staff must be trained on and respect these rights:

  • Accessible voter registration
  • Accessible polling places 
  • Policies and procedures that do not discriminate against you based on your disability
  • Accessible, available, and operational voting systems
  • Your service animal to accompany you inside the polling place
  • The right to vote privately and independently or with assistance, if needed
  • Assistance from a person of your  choice, who can be a friend, family member, or poll worker (but not your boss, union agent or someone who has authority over you at work)

In Montana, you also have the right to:  

  • Ask for a new ballot if you damage your ballot or want to change your vote. Before the rejected ballot is deposited in the ballot box, ask an election judge to provide you with a new one.
  • Ask for help marking your ballot if you are unable to read or write for any reason.
  • Vote at an accessible polling place. Ask your County Election Official to make sure you are assigned to one.
  • Vote from your vehicle if a disability prevents you from entering a polling place. A friend or relative may ask an election judge to bring your ballot to your car.
  • Have a ballot delivered to you if you are homebound or in a nursing home. Your county election official or a nursing home staffer can tell you how.
  • Vote using an absentee ballot, even if you are capable of voting in person on Election Day. You may request an absentee ballot from your county election official any time from 75 days preceding Election Day until noon the day before.
  • Vote even if you suddenly become ill or have some other health emergency on Election Day. Before noon on Election Day, ask your county election official or a hospital employee to provide you with an absentee ballot.
  • A Voter Information Pamphlet printed in large type or recorded on tape if your vision is impaired. These are available at your local library.
  • Vote if you are serving overseas with the armed forces. See your installation voting officer for more information. Members of your family who are with you overseas and who are registered Montana voters may also vote.
Who can register to vote in Montana?

To register to vote in Montana, you must be: 

  • A citizen of the United States of America
  • At least 18 years old or turning 18 on or before Election Day 
  • A resident of Montana for at least 30 days

If you are a student, unhoused, a survivor of intimate partner violence with related concerns, or living with a mental or physical impairment, you may still register and vote.

In Montana, you may not register or vote if you:

  • Have had your right to vote specifically removed by a court order, unless your right has been restored 
  • Are currently incarcerated for a felony conviction. If you are on parole, probation, or have fully completed your sentence, you may register to vote and cast a ballot.

Register to vote now if you are eligible!

What are my rights when registering to vote in Montana?

Federal law requires assistance in registering to vote from offices that provide public assistance or state-funded programs serving people with disabilities. Responsibilities of these offices include:

  • Providing voter registration forms
  • Assisting voters in completing the forms
  • Transmitting completed forms to the appropriate election official

All aspects of voter registration must be accessible

What are the different ways to vote in Montana?
  • In-person absentee
  • In person on Election Day
  • Absentee without excuse
  • While abroad as a citizen or military through an absentee ballot request
  • A provisional ballot at a polling place that is counted after officials confirm your eligibility
  • Certain elections may be held by mail
What are the ways to request an Absentee Ballot in Montana?

Any registered voter may vote by absentee ballot. To do so:

  • Fill out an Application for Absentee Ballot. You can do so using the US Vote tool.
  • An application may be mailed or dropped off at your County Election Office.
  • Applications must be received by the county election office by noon the day before the election. If you drop off the application you will be able to pick up the absentee ballot at the same time, once ballots are available.
  • An absentee voting packet will be mailed to the address you put on your application. You can also pick up the packet at the county election office at the time you apply for the absentee ballot, if ballots are available at that time.
  • After voting the absentee ballot, return in the envelope(s) provided. READ INSTRUCTIONS INCLUDED WITH THE PACKET CAREFULLY.
  • Be sure to sign the affirmation on the signature envelope before sending back or dropping off. Note:  The person to whom the ballot was issued must be the person signing the return envelope.
  • You can track your absentee ballot for federal/state elections at My Voter Page.
  • For more information about voting, call your local election office or call the Secretary of State’s toll-free voter hotline: 1-888-884-VOTE (8683).

Request an absentee ballot now or contact your local election official to find out how to get an accessible ballot.

How is the Montana mail-in or absentee ballot process made accessible for voters with print disabilities?

Montana’s Electronic Ballot Request System (EBRS) provides disabled Montana voters the ability to apply for an absentee ballot, receive and mark it electronically.

Voters can access the EBRS beginning 30 days prior to an election and all EBRS ballots must be voted and returned by close of the polls on Election day at 8pm.

If you need an alternative ballot, please contact your local election official.

What accommodations are available for voters with disabilities at polling locations in Montana?

Federal law requires polling places to meet minimum compliance standards for individuals with special needs. 

  • The Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act of 1984 (VAEHA) requires accessible polling places in federal elections for elderly individuals and people with disabilities. Where no accessible location is available to serve as a polling place, voters must be provided an alternate means of voting in person on Election Day.
     
  • The Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) requires at least one accessible voting system for persons with disabilities at each polling place in federal elections.  The accessible voting system must provide the same opportunity for access and participation, including privacy and independence, that other voters receive. 

In Montana, disabled voters can use the Electronic Ballot Request System (EBRS) starting 30 days before election day, until noon the day before election day. For more information, see Montana’s EBRS FAQ.  Additionally:

  • Every polling place in Montana has at least one accessible voting machine.  Montana uses either AutoMARK or ExpressVote.
  • If you cannot enter a polling place, election judges will assist you with “curbside voting.”
  • If you have a physical disability or are unable to read or write, you may ask an election judge to help you mark your ballot.
  • You can also bring anyone along to help you vote (other than your employer or employer’s agent or union agent). With the permission of the election judge, they can go into the voting booth with you and help you vote.
  • You may also designate an agent to assist you with the voting process on the Designation of Agent by Individual with Disability form. Deliver the signed application to your local election office.
  • The Voter Information Pamphlet published by the Secretary of State for each state general election is available in braille and audio formats.

If you want to check that your polling location meets these standards or find an alternative polling location, contact your local election official.

If you are unable to stand in line, you can:

  • Request to be moved to the front of the line or refuse to be moved to the front of the line
  • Request that a chair be provided or refuse to accept a chair
  • Request to have your place in line held and notified when it is your turn
What are the rules of assistance for disabled voters in Montana?
  • You may request assistance from a poll worker or receive assistance from a person of your choice with the following exceptions:  
    • your employer or an agent of your employer
    • an officer or agent of your union
       
  • A poll worker cannot force you to accept assistance.
     
  • You may also designate an agent to assist you with the voting process on the Designation of Agent by Individual with Disability form. Deliver the signed application to your local election office.
How can I prepare to use accessible voting equipment prior to Election Day?

Montana has developed a voting with disabilities guide which describes its AutoMARK and ExpressVote accessible voting terminals.  Below are short videos demonstrating each voting system:

Contact your local election official to preview a sample ballot and practice using accessible voting equipment.

Who do I contact if I have problems when voting in Montana?

You may file a complaint with the Secretary of State using a Montana HAVA Complaint Form

  • The completed form must be signed, notarized, and sworn before submitting it to:

                Montana Secretary of State
                P.O. Box 202801
                Helena, MT 59620-2801

You can also fill out a Violation of Civil Rights Complaint Form and submit it to the US Department of Justice by one of the following methods:

  • Online, through the form’s submission process - this is the fastest method.
  • By fax at (202) 616-9881. You MUST include “ATTN: Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Complaints" at the top of your fax submission for it to be processed correctly.
  • By mailing your form to: 

                 U.S. Department of Justice
                 Office of the Inspector General Investigations Division
                 ATTN: Civil Rights & Civil Liberties Complaints
                 950 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
                 Washington, DC 20530

For additional assistance, The National Network of ADA Centers can provide local contact information for other organizations you may wish to contact, including your Regional ADA Center or ADA Knowledge Translation Center, or Federal Agencies and Resources.