Watch CBSN Live

Montanans Register For Absentee Ballots At Record Rate This Election

This story was written by Mike Gerrity, Montana Kaimin

The number of Montana residents applying for absentee ballots this election year is the highest it has ever been, according to the Montana Secretary of States Office.

As of Wednesday, 139,849 voters registered for absentee ballots, nearly 20,000 more than the 2006 election and 40,000 in the last presidential election in 2004.This is not the end, said Bowen Greenwood, communications director for the secretary of states office. That number will continue to grow right up until Election Day.

Greenwood said the states permanent absentee ballot list already has 90,000 people, which would leave about 50,000 people in Montana registering to vote absentee this year.

This years presidential candidates have been fervently trying to register students on campus to vote this election season, particularly Sen. Barack Obamas campaign workers.

Caleb Weaver, communications director for the Obama campaign in Montana, said voting absentee is an easier option for many voters, who end up getting too busy on Election Day to wait in line at the polls.

An absentee ballot, he said, makes it possible to vote a month early, thanks to Montanas early-vote option.

If youre not registered, you can register and vote at the same time. You just have to do it in person, Weaver said.

Ethan Haverly, the McCain student-state coordinator for Montana, said absentee voting also leaves campaign workers with more free time as Nov. 4 draws closer.

One of the things I like about it is that I can do something else on Election Day to get out the vote, Haverly said, who plans on driving people to the poles that day.

Haverly pointed out that early voting and registry systems need to be reliable as well. He mentioned the recent scandal with the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, and the Obama campaign.

Eight different states have come under investigation after thousands of voter registries, gathered by ACORN affiliates, were found to be falsified, including registries apparently written for the entire starting lineup of the Dallas Cowboys.

Were having a lot of questions about voter fraud right now, Haverly said. I would hope that people would be honest in casting their ballot.Weaver said the Obama campaign has run its own voter registry campaign and the campaign has publicly condemned ACORNs practices. He said he believes that there shouldnt be a problem in this state.

There has been no documented cases of voter fraud in Montanas recent history, Weaver said