KALISPELL - The polls closed at 8 p.m. on Tuesday night but the final results for Flathead County municipal races came in very late or even early Wednesday morning.
Election administrators say the delays were due to their counting machine not handling the folds in the mail-in ballots as efficiently as they anticipated. The ballots had to be driven from Whitefish, Columbia Falls and other locales to the elections office in Kalispell before the votes could be tallied.
Elections Administrator Debbie Pierson said there are various issues that arise during every election that the office can’t always control -- including what happened on Tuesday.
“The absentee ballots are always folded, so this is something we address each time, but there just must have been something in the way the back fold happened during the processing phase that they weren’t feeding through the machine as quickly as they normally would," Pierson explained. "So, we were having to do some manual folding to get the ballots to feed through the machine.”