Kalispell School District Fielding Questions About Missing Ballots

District officials encourage voters without ballots to pick up new ballots at Kalispell downtown office before deadline

By Dillon Tabish
School District 5 offices in downtown Kalispell. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

With the deadline to vote on two bond requests approaching, Kalispell school officials have been fielding dozens of calls from residents who have not received ballots or are confused about the district boundaries.

Christine Hensleigh, community outreach coordinator with Kalispell Public Schools, said the district has received several questions from residents about ballots not being received for two bonds measures. The district sent ballots to residents in Kalispell and the surrounding area on Sept. 19, using addresses on file with Flathead County. The ballots are due back Oct. 4.

Hensleigh said the primary reason residents might not have received a ballot is because their addresses might not be current in the county’s registry. Residents with proper identification can receive a new ballot at the Kalispell school district office at 233 First Ave. E in downtown.

The Flathead County Election Department, located at 40 11th St. W., Ste. 230 in Kalispell, is in charge of maintaining the registry of voters and residents should go to the county office to ensure their most current address is registered for future elections.

“If you are on the registered voter list, we can get you a ballot in our the business office,” Gwyn Andersen, Kalispell school district chief finance officer said. “If you’re not on the list, we can help them with what to do so they can vote.”

Voters should mail their ballots by Sept. 30 to ensure they are received by the election on Tuesday. Ballots can also be directly dropped off at the district office by Tuesday, Oct. 4 at 8 p.m.

As a reminder, the outer envelope of the ballots must be signed by the specific voter listed on the envelope. If the envelope is not signed, the district will return the ballot to the voter, requesting a signature.

“Yesterday we sent back 50 ballots that weren’t signed,” Andersen said on Wednesday.

When they receive the collected ballots from the school district on Tuesday, county officials will verify the signatures against the original voter signature on file.

According to state law, ballots must be received by Oct. 4 at 8 p.m. or they will not be counted.

“We’ll have hundreds of ballots arrive in the mail after the last day. But we can’t count them,” Andersen said.

The Kalispell school district is hosting an open forum to discuss the bond requests sent to voters this week. The forum is Thursday, Sept. 29 from 6-7 p.m. at the Red Lion in Kalispell in the ballroom. Residents are encouraged to bring questions on the proposed bonds. The Red Lion is on the east side of the Kalispell Center Mall, 20 N Main St.

Voters in the elementary district, which encompasses city limits, will be able to vote on a bond worth $25.28 million that would fund the development of a new elementary school on Airport Road along with repairs and updates at the city’s existing five elementary schools and middle school. The new elementary school would relieve overcrowding at the other sites; the district is 225 students over capacity this fall. If approved, the new elementary school would be the first built in Kalispell since 1987, when Edgerton was developed.

Voters in the elementary district will also be able to vote on the high school bond worth $28.76 million that would go toward renovating sections of Flathead High School that are over 100 years old as well as deferred maintenance, along with an expansion of the Agricultural Education Center and upgrades at Linderman Education Center. The bond would also fund maintenance needs at Glacier High School and rebuild parts of Legends Stadium.

Voters in the high school district may not necessarily be able to vote on the elementary bond if they are not within city limits. There were 29,723 registered voters in the elementary and high school districts who were mailed ballots. Of those, 14,408 registered voters are in both districts, while 15,315 voters are in just the high school district.

For more information, the school district office encourages voters to call 751-3424. To contact the Flathead County Election Department, call 758-5535.

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