Outrage and answers

Voters concerned about missing and delayed Sweet Grass County School Board of Trustees election ballots offered more criticism than solutions at an April 27 meeting at the county annex. County officials convened at the request of Big Timber City Councilman Justin Ferguson to relay what they knew about what went wrong and the steps they plan to take to prevent future election faux pas from happening. 

— What went wrong —

The core of the issue revolves around the mailing of the ballots for the high school election. According to state law, all ballots were supposed to be sent out at the same time. However, one group of ballots, those for voters with last names beginning with A through C, were misplaced beneath a table where the majority of ballots were stowed. The A, B and C ballots weren’t discovered until April 19 — one week after the other ballots had been mailed — after multiple voters reported they were still missing their ballots. But the A through C voters weren’t the only ones affected: election officials realized another group was still ballot-less — those with last named beginning with D through F.

Those ballots were nowhere to be found, so Sweet Grass County Election Administrator Vera Pederson re-printed and mailed ballots for D, E and F voters on April 21. Three days later a fourth mailing of ballots, this time for C voters, was sent out because officials noticed they weren’t  receiving many back in that bracket. In total, there were four separate mailings on four separate days. 

Ballots mailed for the Greycliff Rural School election were unaffected. 

To read the full story, pick up the May 4 edition of the Pioneer or subscribe to our e-edition. Current subscribers are provided complimentary access to the e-edition with registration.


Story and photos by Mackenzie Reiss / Pioneer Editor 



Justin Ferguson (right) quotes the Montana Code Annotated while Rocky Heinemann (center) and Brad McGann listen on.




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