Election of Board Members

It's important to remember that after the initial appointment board members are elected to the library board. It would be good to contact the election administrator of the county to find out about deadlines, the process, and to ask them to modify the county's "Candidate for Petition for Nomination" to reflect the new library district. It is important to develop a good relationship with the election administrator as they can help you with the election process. Be prepared to educate the election administrator about the new library district. You may have to work with the commissioners and the administrator to keep things moving along. This may be a new area for them so be patient with them. Eventually the election administrator will understand the district and process.

The election administrator for the county has the following duties:

  • Add the new library district to the list of special districts with elected officials
  • Assist the library board and interested participants with the process
  • Review the petitions
  • Prepare the ballots for mail elections
  • Keep a list of board members and their terms

Board member elections are held in conjunction with the annual school election. People interested in running for a position on the board need to file with the office of the election administrator at least 75 days before the school election. The election process often starts in January and February. Candidates need to be nominated by petition and have at least 5 electors of the district sign this petition. Interested candidates will need to visit the election administrator to pick up the paperwork and then gather at least 5 signatures of registered voters living in their area. It is a good idea to acquire more than 5 signatures in case any of the signatures are invalid. Candidates are allowed to sign their own petition. The candidate may have some additional paperwork to complete. Candidates should plan on completing and signing their paperwork in front of a notary public. See the Ravalli County Candidate Petition for Nomination to see what this form looks like.

If the number of candidates is equal to or less than the number of open positions then the election administrator may cancel the election. The county commissioners will then declare the candidates elected by acclamation. If there are not enough candidates for the open positions the county commissioners can appoint someone to fill that position. It's important for board members to remember this. The board may wish to recruit good candidates for the library board. If an election needs to be held the board should be prepared to pay at least part of the election costs. The board may have to split the costs with the school board or other special district. If the election is by a mail-in ballot or the library district is the only organization with an election the board may have to pay for the full costs of the election. Consider setting aside money each month to pay for election costs. Contact the election administrator to get an estimate as to how much a full election would cost. Get this number early on in the process so that the board can add this into their budget.

Board members draw lots after the first election to see which members will serve 2 year terms and which members will serve 4 year terms. This is to create a staggered system where the board isn't completely changing every 5 years. If the number of candidates exceeds the amount of offices open the county commissioners will need to include a vote for public library district members on the school election ballot. The election administrator should be able to help you with this process. Obviously interested candidates will need to campaign for the vote if there is an actual election. After the election results are announced the county commissioners will probably create a certificate of election declaring the winners. Elected trustees must then go through the oath process which can be administered by local officials. Your election administrator will be able to help you with this process.

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