No matter who voters ultimately choose as Butte-Silver Bow’s next clerk and recorder, they’re going to get someone passionate about voting rights and the privilege of making your voice count.
Sally Hollis is retiring instead of seeking a fourth four-year term as the county’s elections chief whose office also oversees individual birth and death information and maintains all official local government records.
All three candidates hoping to replace Hollis — Keith Seyffarth, Rachel Roberts Boyd and Deputy Clerk and Recorder Linda Sajor-Joyce — say they are instilled with a deep sense of civic duty and would work to ensure the integrity of elections in Butte-Silver Bow.
They’re also complimentary of Hollis, who is the only incumbent countywide office holder not seeking another term this year. All other countywide incumbents are running for re-election, but only one — Chief Executive Dave Palmer — is being challenged.
There are contested races in five of the six Council of Commissioner districts, including two that have three candidates. Only the top two vote-getters will advance past the June 2 primary, with voters deciding the winner in November.
The same scenario applies in the clerk and recorder’s race. One candidate will be eliminated on June 2, and no matter how many votes the others get that night, they will be on the November ballot with a clean slate.
Here is a look at the three candidates:
Rachel Roberts Boyd
Roberts Boyd said her father worked for the telephone company and when she was 9, moved the family from Baton Rouge, Louisiana to Butte. They loved it and never had regrets, she said.
Roberts Boyd, now 50, graduated from Butte High School, attended Montana Tech and Idaho State University and has worked in marketing and management. She lobbied for nonprofit and nonpartisan organizations at the state Capitol in Montana for five years, got married six years ago and now works in the clothing department at Murdoch’s.
She gained her sense of civic duty early on.
“My father was an Army veteran and it was instilled in me at young age to never take voting for granted, and in our wonderful nation of freedom, we have voting rights,” she said.
She has served as an election judge and gained “insight and respect” for the efficiencies of the clerk and recorder’s office and staff here. If elected, she says she would set up voter registration drives and foster awareness of elections.
“Physically, I would love to be out in the community doing voter registration drives, talking with voters and attending organizations,” she said. “We have a lot of great organizations in Butte and I would love to be a guest speaker.”
She says she would encourage people to be election judges and would love to have a “voter education day” at the high schools in Butte to talk about civic education and hopefully make students lifelong voters.
Roberts Boyd wants to connect the clerk and recorder’s office to social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, and look for advancements in software and technology so those in the office could better serve the public. They are caretakers of birth, death and other vital records, she said.
She said she loved Butte and its “fascinating history,” and the Butte-Silver Bow Archives was a wonderful resource for much of that. But the clerk and recorder’s office also preserves that history, she said.
“I would be wonderful to have a little bitty role in that,” she said.
Seyffarth grew up in Billings, graduated from Billings Senior High and attended Montana State University in Bozeman. He worked for RightNow Technologies in Bozeman for nearly a decade before moving to Butte to found his own company, Paydirt Design, in 2008.
Paydirt is a local website management, design and hosting business, and Seyffarth, who lives in Walkerville now, says that background would fit nicely with an office that keeps and manages records and information.
The staff is already great, he said, but he would ask for their ideas on improving efficiencies and accuracies in keeping and retrieving records.
“I think there is a degree of getting some fresh eyes on a system and seeing if there is room for improvement,” he said.
Seyffarth, 49, said he has been intensely interested in the integrity of elections since the “Bush-Gore fiasco” in 2000, when the presidential election came down to contested tallies and “hanging chads” in Florida. George W. Bush was ultimately declared the winner.
Seyffarth said he got involved in elections in Gallatin County after that, receiving training on voter equipment and polling duties and passing that knowledge on as an Election Day judge and supervisor for many years now.
“I have been trained on how to work a polling place, how to tally votes, how to do reconciliations, how to handle the equipment,” he said. “I have actually been trained by the equipment manufacturers on several pieces of equipment that have been and are still being used throughout the state.”
Seyffarth is not out to reinvent the election wheel.
“I think things work well the way elections are handled in Montana,” he said, adding that some cities and states look to Montana for lessons. “A big part of that is we use paper ballots and we mark them rather than damage them.”
But there could be ways to improve automation and get faster results without putting security in elections at risk, Seyffarth said, and the all-mail primary election that’s being conducted in Montana because of COVID-19 concerns might be a great test run for the future.
All-mail elections would improve security, cut costs and “make it so much easier for so many of our voters,” he said.
Sajor-Joyce started working for Butte-Silver Bow in 1997, spending many years as the county’s IT manager.
Part of her tenure, she said, was “when computers were moving out the mainframe to the PC world,” a challenge she liked. Still, she was thinking of retiring a few years ago when the deputy clerk and recorder post opened up and Hollis asked if she was interested.
“I couldn’t say no,” said Sajor-Joyce, 62. She has enjoyed the job.
“It is more people oriented than equipment oriented and that was a good change for me,” she said.
If elected, she said, her experience in county government and the clerk and recorder’s office in particular would be a plus for taxpayers.
“I am already familiar with a lot of the local government processes and the budget and planning process,” Sajor-Joyce said. “I have a grasp of what is needed for the clerk and recorder’s role in commissioner meetings. I understand the record management program.
“I truly can hit the ground running and it would be an almost seamless handoff from Sally,” she said.
Sajor-Joyce has served on a committee in charge of creating a new statewide voter-registration database in Montana, and she has ideas on how to spend about $50,000 in federal grant money to improve election security in Butte-Silver Bow.
It would involve physical security and cyber security.
“I would like to get a cyber-security assessment done so we know how our computer network is currently operating, that we are doing the best we can to avoid any missteps in our network,” she said.
Sajor-Joyce said her parents came to the United States from the Philippines.
“The right to vote is important. As citizens, that is our voice,” she said. “My parents were immigrants so it was always something they told me was important. They never missed an election and they made sure none of their children missed an election.
Get local news delivered to your inbox!
Subscribe to our Daily Headlines newsletter.