Montana Free Press

Election 2024 Guide

Montana's candidates for state and federal office.

A digital project by |
Last update: Jul 9, 2024
All RacesFederal DelegationState OfficialsMontana LegislatureOther officesBallot InitiativesVoting info
Ben Alke
Montana Democratic candidate
for Attorney General

Ben Alke

Bozeman attorney

Active candidates for Attorney General

General election nominees were selected via the June 4, 2024, primary election.

Republican

Democrat

Alke, 45 as of Election Day, is a Bozeman-based attorney who says he’s running for attorney general to restore “integrity and competence” to an office he says has been sidelined from its constitutional mission by its current occupant.

Alke, who describes himself as a centrist, has positioned his campaign in direct opposition to Knudsen, characterizing Knudsen’s aggressive involvement in partisan politics as a distraction from the office’s core mission of prosecuting crimes and defending the state in court.

“The state is not stepping up to provide help where it is needed most,” Alke told MTFP. “For example, Lake County does not have the resources to prosecute felonies on the Flathead Reservation and there are around 2,000 outstanding warrants. The attorney general needs to spend more time fighting crime and less time on politics.”

Alke, who began his legal career clerking for then-Montana Supreme Court Justice Brian Morris and later worked with prominent liberal constitutional attorney Jim Goetz, now is a partner specializing in commercial litigation at Crist, Krogh, Alke & Nord.

Despite being a Democrat, Alke says he’d work with every legislator to defend laws they pass in court regardless of their party.

“I am not a career politician, an activist or an extremist,” he said. “I am a highly qualified, experienced attorney who wants to serve the best interests of all Montanans and get things done.”

This biography is based on materials provided to MTFP by Alke’s campaign and previous MTFP reporting.

Want original Montana Free Press reporting and analysis sent to your inbox each week?
Sign up for the free MT LOWDOWN newsletter
Delivered Friday afternoons

ON THE ISSUES

Answers here were solicited from candidates via a written questionnaire conducted by MTFP in April 2024. Responses were limited to 1,000 characters and edited lightly for punctuation and spelling. Candidates were asked to focus on the positives their service would bring the state instead of making rhetorical attacks on their opponents. Responses have not been exhaustively fact-checked.

The attorney general is Montana’s chief law enforcement officer. What do you see as the state’s top law enforcement issue?
Ben Alke:

Crime is up in Montana, primarily because of the drug crisis. Meth and fentanyl are doing terrible things to our communities.

As crime increases, Montana Department of Justice needs to provide more support to local prosecutors and law enforcement. The attorney general must also coordinate with federal and tribal law enforcement officers to combat drug traffickers.

What we are doing today is not good enough. The State is not stepping up to provide help where it is needed most. For example, Lake County does not have the resources to prosecute felonies on the Flathead Reservation and there are around 2,000 outstanding warrants. The attorney general needs to spend more time fighting crime and less time on politics.

Compare to competing candidates
Montana attorneys general have historically worked with attorneys general from other states to advance multi-state litigation against parties such as federal officials, pharmaceutical companies and social media companies. What if any national issues would you focus the Montana Department of Justice’s litigation resources on?
Ben Alke:

I want to focus on what is happening inside Montana rather than national issues. My job is to represent the people of the state of Montana, not any national interests, and that is what I intend to do.

The instances when the Montana attorney general should participate in a national lawsuit are limited. The tobacco litigation and opioid cases are good examples — the attorney general had to participate in those cases to recover funds. If a similar case arises, then I will participate.

However, the Montana Department of Justice’s litigation resources will be focused on our state. We have a drug crisis, human trafficking is on the rise, and bad actors are engaging in unfair trade practices inside Montana that target senior citizens and consumers. Those issues need to be addressed first.

Compare to competing candidates
The attorney general has the job of defending against lawsuits that challenge the constitutionality of laws passed by the state Legislature, which leaders from both major parties say will likely remain in Republican control following this year’s election cycle. How do you see yourself working with legislators as elements of the agenda they pass face judicial review?
Ben Alke:

As attorney general of the state of Montana, my job will be to set aside politics and make decisions based on the facts and the law. Regardless of their political party, I will work with every Montana state legislator in good faith and in accordance with the Montana Constitution. I am not a career politician, an activist or an extremist. I am a highly-qualified, experienced attorney who wants to serve the best interests of all Montanans and get things done.

Compare to competing candidates

MTFP COVERAGE OF Alke

CAMPAIGN FINANCE

Campaign finance information for non-federal candidates is publicly available through the state Campaign Electronic Reporting System maintained by the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices. MTFP isn't presenting that data on this guide at the current time because the COPP system doesn't make it possible to easily export reliable campaign finance summary data for the races that office oversees.

Election outcomes

June 4 primary – Democratic candidates
CandidateVotesPercentage
BEN ALKE92,599100.0%
Count reported by Montana secretary of state as of Jun 10, 2024.

COMMON VOTING QUESTIONS

When are Montana’s 2024 elections?

Voters will pick which candidates advance to the November general election in the June primary, which is scheduled for Tuesday, June 4. Voters will pick the candidates who will ultimately fill each office on the ballot in the November election, which is set for Tuesday, Nov. 5.

Who runs Montana’s elections?

Montana elections are administered at the county level. The process is overseen by county clerks and election administrators, who help to train and monitor the volunteer election judges that staff the polls. Ballots are typically processed and counted at central county locations, with the results reported to the Montana secretary of state’s office via a statewide software system called ElectMT.

Once polls close, the secretary of state’s office provides results through its website. The state-level office also provides guidance to local election administrators to ensure compliance with state election laws. Additionally, enforcing compliance with some laws governing political campaigns, particularly those involving campaign finance, falls to a separate office known as the Commissioner of Political Practices.

Do I need to be registered in order to vote?

Yes. If you’re unsure about your registration status, you can check it through the Montana secretary of state's My Voter Page. You can register to vote by stopping by your county election office any time during regular business hours to pick up an application. After you’ve filled it out, you’ll need to get it back to your county election office by mail or in person (the latter option is strongly recommended close to Election Day to ensure your application is received in time). If you do present your application in person, you’ll have to provide a photo ID or the last four digits of your Social Security number. If you happen to be applying for a Montana driver’s license or identification card before the election, you can register to vote at the same time.

Can I register to vote on Election Day?

Yes. The state Legislature has sought to enact an earlier registration deadline, but under a March 2024 ruling by the Montana Supreme Court, same-day voter registration remains legal in Montana. Residents can register to vote or update their voter registration at their county’s election office prior to 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Does Montana have voter ID requirements?

Yes, you will be required to present identification when voting at the polls. However, under the Montana Supreme Court’s March ruling, changes made to those requirements by the 2021 Legislature remain blocked. The current forms of identification voters can use at the polls are a current Montana driver’s license, state-issued photo ID, tribal or military photo ID, a U.S. passport or a student ID. If you don’t have a photo ID, you can use a utility bill, a bank statement, a voter confirmation card or any other government document that shows your name and address.

Are there situations where I wouldn't be eligible to vote?

According to state law, you can't vote if you'll be under age 18 on Election Day, are not a U.S. citizen, or have lived in Montana less than 30 days. Convicted felons who are currently incarcerated in a penal facility and people whom judges have ruled to be of unsound mind are also ineligible to vote. Otherwise, you're good to go.

Can I vote online?

No, that’s not an option in Montana.

Can I vote by mail?

Yes, you can sign up as an absentee voter by checking a box on your voter registration form. If you’re already registered to vote, you can fill out a separate form and submit it to your county election office.

If you’re registered as an absentee voter, a ballot should be mailed to you a few weeks in advance of each election day. You can make sure your address is current via the My Voter page. County election officials are slated to mail ballots to voters for the June 2024 primary election May 10.

You can return ballots by mail, or drop them off in person at your county’s election office. Either way, the election office must receive your ballot by 8 p.m. on Election Day in order to count it.

How do I vote in person?

If you plan to vote at the polls, just be sure you know where your polling location is and head there between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Election Day. You'll need to provide a photo ID and sign the precinct register, at which point you’ll get your ballot and be directed to a voting booth. If you have any technical questions or run into any problems, the election judges at your polling place should be able to help you.

I have a friend or family member who isn't able to drop off his or her mail-in ballot. Can I do it for them?

Yes, you can. The Montana Legislature did make some changes to ballot collection laws in 2021 related to paid ballot collection, those changes have also been blocked by the Montana Supreme Court.

Who should I vote for?

That’s your call, not ours. We hope the information we present on this guide is helpful as you make that decision for yourself, though.

About this project

This guide was produced by the Montana Free Press newsroom with production and web development by Eric Dietrich, editing by Brad Tyer and Nick Ehli and contributions from Arren Kimbel-Sannit, Mara Silvers, Alex Sakariassen, Amanda Eggert and Stephanie Farmer. Questionnaire responses for legislatiive candidates were collected with help from the Montana League of Women Voters, through the league's Vote 411 program. Contact Eric Dietrich with questions, corrections or suggestions at edietrich@montanafreepress.org.

Montana Free Press is a nonpartisan 501(c)(3) nonprofit, reader-supported news organization serving Montana. MTFP's donor base includes supporters from across Montana's political spectrum, including some Montanans who are candidates in this year's election. MTFP's major donors are listed here and a current list of other supporters is available here. MTFP's news judgments are made entirely independently from donor involvement.

This material is available for republication by other media outlets under Montana Free Press' standard distribution terms.