The only agenda item on the menu for the Nov. 10 meeting of the Glacier County Commission at the Satellite Office in Browning was “Browning Community Issues.” However, no such issues were introduced as no one from Browning arrived to raise them.
Instead, Commissioners Michael DesRosier, John Overcast and Tom McKay, as well as county employee Melanie Heavy Runner discussed the recent General Election.
Overcast said, “It was my first time helping with the election, and I was very impressed with the security and the number of people involved.”
DesRosier added, “I commend the people who got the results so quickly; we’ve got excellent people,” but went on to say circumstances were different from previous elections.
“We got good comments, but the last two elections were mail-in ballots. In-person elections are different in terms of manpower and travel, and the ballots get in late, like 9 or 9:30 p.m. And in Browning it takes a half hour to load the ballots, so there’s no comparison, and, of course, the results will be faster.”
Overcast saw workers sanitizing everything and said the Glacier County Sheriff’s Department did an outstanding job in keeping things organized. “The Sheriff’s always stepped up,” DesRosier said.
“People who registered and voted downstairs (in the courthouse) said it was the safest place to be because of the security and sanitizing,” Overcast responded. “Everybody should try it once to see all the preparations that are necessary.”
“It’s probably the wave of the future,” DesRosier noted. “We’ll probably go that way [to mail-in elections].” Over the years, he said, Democrats and Republicans have shifted their stances on favoring mail-in elections, but with the COVID-19 outbreak, “it became the law of the land…With the Satellite Office it became an opportunity to reach out with mail-in ballots, and people aren’t objecting now. Election workers are usually elderly and it’s difficult to find people to work long hours and get the necessary training. Mail-in elections are cheaper for the counties.”
One thing that was different this time around, Heavy Runner said, was the presence of two men in suits and ties who identified themselves as poll watchers. She noted there are specific rules about poll watchers, and she showed them one requirement that states they may not use their cell phones while poll watching.
“They were kind of intimidating at first, but they complimented us in the end,” she said.
The remainder of the meeting revolved around who would be available for the Nov. 12 meeting in Cut Bank. McKay, who was defeated in both the Primary and General Elections, said he was not planning to attend and DesRosier was undecided about his status that day.
Commissioner Overcast said he would be available on Thursday and could handle signing checks while remaining issues could be put off until Monday, Nov. 16.