Glacier County is adding two ballot boxes at East Glacier and Browning on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation to make voting more accessible.
The Browning drop box will be at the Blackfeet Nation Stick playhouse (44 Museum Loop). it will be open Friday and Monday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and election day 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The East Glacier drop box will be at the East Glacier Women’s Club (416 US-2). it will be open Friday and Monday 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and election day 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Election day is Tuesday.
Voters can submit completed ballots at drop-box locations. People can register to vote and vote at the Glacier County Courthouse (512 E. Main St.) at Cut Bank or at the Glacier County Browning satellite office (12 Starr School Road).
To ensure the safety and security of voters, the ballot boxes are manned by part-time employees.
Glacier County Clerk and Recorder Mandi Bird Kennerly said her staff were working “tirelessly” and through their efforts, the office received $ 263,000 in a COVID-19 response grant through the Center for Tech and Civic Life. The grant, which can support election workers, election security, outreach efforts, and early voting initiatives, has helped pay part-time workers who tend the ballot boxes.
Glacier County Commission Chairman Mike DesRosier said he was happy people were being paid to watch the boxes.
âSo many people are unemployed, out of work,â he said. “We thought this was the perfect opportunity to pay them a living wage. Even for a few hours, a few days, everything is useful right now.”
DesRosier said efforts to add ballot box locations had been “contentious” among county commissioners.
He said conversations at the ballot box started weeks ago, but Kennerly missed meetings where it was discussed. He said he thought Kennerly’s actions were “deliberate, but it is a matter of opinion.”
Kennerly said she had “everyone’s best intentions” in mind.
âWe’re in a mail-order election. We’ve never had one before, and it doesn’t come with a manual,â she said. âI’m just trying to do the best job I can because it makes people uncomfortable. I believe in what I’m doing and I’m trying to prove it through my work ethic. I had no intention of doing it. ‘be unfair. “
DesRosier said people had raised a number of concerns about the ballot boxes, including the implementation of proper security, compensation for volunteers and adherence to COVID-19 security protocols.
âFor some of us it was quite disappointing,â he said. “We had to wait so long and had so much resistance.”
Four Directions, a national voting rights organization, and the Blackfeet Tribal Council intervened, as both entities sent letters to Kennerly expressing concern that the drop boxes were not implemented sooner.
“In the face of any injustice when it comes to voting rights, we have an absolute duty to act,” said Tom Rodgers, voting rights advocate. “We have acted and will continue to act until the promises made by those entrusted with this sacred right are honored.”
Kennerly spoke to the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council in a letter Friday, in which she wrote: “Ballot boxes will be delivered in a safe and secure manner.”
“Our goal has always been to provide a safe and secure voting process. Our priority is to protect both the public and voting citizens,” she wrote.
While DesRosier said he is happy the ballot box issue has been resolved, he added that COVID-19 has put additional stress on the Blackfeet Nation. The Blackfeet Nation COVID-19 Incident Command reported 84 active cases of COVID-19 and 17 total deaths on the reserve on Thursday.
âWe have all been affected by this pandemic and these deaths,â DesRosier said. “We all know people who have died, and that only increases the stress load on everyone. It all plays into the difficulties we face in getting drop boxes and getting people to vote.”
Voting and filing places and times:
- Voting location: Glacier County Courthouse, 512 East Main St., Cut Bank, MT 59427. Friday and Monday: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Election Day 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
- Voting location: Glacier County Browning satellite office, 12 Starr School Road, Browning, MT 59417. Friday and Monday: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Election Day 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
- Urn location: Blackfeet Nation Stick Game Arbor, 44 Museum Loop, Browning, MT. Friday and Monday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Election day 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
- Location of the ballot box: East Glacier Women’s Club, 416 US-2, East Glacier, MT. Friday and Monday from 9 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. and election day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Nora Mabie covers Indigenous communities for the Great Falls Tribune. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Facebook @NoraMabieJournalist or on Twitter @NoraMabie.
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