For over 200 years, papers, politicians, and pundits have proclaimed each election as “The most important election in our lifetime!” Sure. Sure. Sure. For real though, local elections are incredibly important—we’d argue more so than federal elections. City Council members elected this November will serve for four years and make critical decisions on property taxes, water rates, public safety, infrastructure, and much more that affects you every day. City voters will decide whether recreational marijuana dispensaries will be allowed in city limits. Everyone in the county will decide whether newly legalized recreation and medical marijuana are taxed locally. Perhaps most importantly, voters will get to decide whether to increase funding for public safety in Billings. Every vote matters, so everything you need to know to cast your vote is below.

How to Make Sure you Are Prepared for Election Day

Do not plan to vote in person.

This election will be conducted entirely by mail, so there will not be polling places open on November 2nd as they would be for a Presidential election. Voters must either mail in an absentee ballot on or before October 28th or return that ballot to the Yellowstone County Elections Office by hand.

If you have not received a ballot, act now.

All registered voters in Yellowstone County should have already received an absentee ballot. If you have not received a ballot, the first step is to check your registration status at the Montana Secretary of State’s My Voter page. Make sure that you are registered and that your address is up to date. If your information is correct and you still haven’t received a ballot, contact the Yellowstone County Election Administration as soon as possible.

It is not too late to register to vote.

While regular voter registration has closed, late voter registration is open until the day before the election. Late registration is only available in person, so anyone who still needs to register to vote should go to the Yellowstone County Courthouse at 217 N. 27th Street; the election administrator’s offices are in Room 101.

Return your ballot on time.

To be counted, all ballots must be received by November 2nd. If you plan to mail in your absentee ballot, the Elections Office recommends that voters mail their ballots by October 28th. Otherwise, ballots can be hand-delivered to the courthouse at any time before 5:00 pm on November 2nd.