MISSOULA — Tuesday marked a historic election in Missoula County.
"We had record-setting turnout. We counted ballots pretty well. We had a pretty long wait line, but spirits were high. It was just pretty darn great in general,” Missoula County Elections Administrator Bradley Seaman said.
Missoula County saw the ballot return rate top 90% in Tuesday’s election while the voter turnout rate hit just under 80%.
"Those inactive voters who don't get a ballot are considered an eligible voter, but they never got sent a ballot, so I really like referring to that 90% return rate."
Seaman says that as of 11:30 p.m. on Tuesday 94% of Missoula County’s ballots were already counted. By Wednesday afternoon, they were almost done.
He added that Missoula County has five high-speed tabulators, “that really helps us." And new state laws allowed officials to start counting votes on Monday.
"We were able to pause the process last night, come in strong today, and we'll still be reporting results before we have in the other federal general elections that I've worked in this office, so that's fantastic,” Seaman said.
He added that Missoula County was prepared for anything.
"We always have some people who get excited around their candidates on Election Day, but we were able to really help manage those in the best possible way," Seaman said.
He told MTN News despite more than 900 people registering to vote, and long lines -- staff and voters were ready.
"Voters felt like they were getting processed through as quickly as we could, and in general it was a really good experience,” Seaman said.
Missoula County officials will now canvas the ballots and audit the equipment which are the final steps to ensure there are no discrepancies.