Here’s your friendly reminder that if you are voting absentee or by mail this election, you need to mail that bad boy out a week before Election Day. That’s next Tuesday, Oct. 27, for anyone keeping track. And if you are voting in Missoula, you can also vote in person at the election office, if voting in-person is more your speed.

The big federal and statewide elections have been unavoidable. You’ve likely been subjected to a barrage of campaign ads already this season. We’re sure you’ve had AT LEAST one pop up while catching up with The Bachelorette on Hulu.

You probably know which presidential candidate you’re voting for this year. You’ve probably made up your mind about the Montana governor’s race and the U.S. House and Senate. But the farther down the ballot you go, the trickier it gets to keep up.

Like the state supreme court races or the ballot initiatives or your local senate and house district races, with candidates you might not have heard of yet — or haven’t had the time, between classes and work, to research. And what about the third-party candidates up and down the ballot?

So we’re doing something different this week. We’ve partnered with the UM School of Journalism’s Community News Service to feature in-depth pieces about what those lawyer-speak ballot initiatives actually mean, who the non-partisan supreme court nominees are and what this year’s third-party candidates stand for.

Our reporters spent the past week looking into Missoula’s local elections, too, to give you the information you need about the senate and house races in your district, as well as every other district represented in Missoula.

We’ve put together this voter guide to help you make informed decisions about every race and issue on your Montana ballot. And if you’re voting absentee or from a different Montana county or state, we hope this still gives you whatever extra boost you need to fill out that ballot and send it in. We hope all our readers can take something away from this coverage, because even if you don’t vote here, you do live here for at least nine months out of the year and should know who’s making decisions on your behalf.

All of our usual coverage is available online, and we’ll be back next week with a good ol‘ Halloween issue. But for now, let’s take a minute to absorb the election coverage you need to cast that ballot — and do your dang civic duty by Nov. 3.

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