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Missoula County reporting high early voter turnout

Missoula Elections Ballots
Posted at 2:58 PM, Oct 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-15 17:39:00-04

MISSOULA — Early voter turnout for the upcoming November 3rd general election is on track to be one of the highest voter turnout elections Missoula County has ever seen.

Elections officials said in a Thursday virtual press conference they have received back 24% of the ballots that were mailed out. On Tuesday alone, more than 4,000 ballots were returned -- that's one ballot every 13 seconds. And Thursday saw 6,200 ballots have been returned via mail.

Elections Administrator Bradley Seaman says so far, more people are returning ballots by mail than voting in person which he says he appreciates because voting by mail is the safest way to vote.

Missoula County uses a local printer to prepare ballots before they are sent off, and Seaman says they've received about seven complaints from ballots that had either missing envelopes, an extra envelope, or missing a page.

The county has almost 90,000 registered voters but some of them are inactive, meaning they haven't voted in a recent federal general election, or their mail in ballot was not completed and returned to sender. Missoula County has sent out 76,002 ballots.

"What we want to do is issue as many valid ballots as we can and get all of those back if it's possible at all,” Seaman said. “Right now, at 24% of our ballots received we're on track to towards our record-setting turnout for this election, and that's exactly what we want to see -- voters voting -- having the most turnout we've had, and done in the safest and healthiest way for voters."

Since the county opted to conduct the election by mail, polling places will not be open on Election Day. Ballots are due back by 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 3. There will be 11 drop-off locations across Missoula County on election day.

The elections office will hold a satellite voter event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Oct. 20 at the Seeley Lake Tax Extension Office, on Montana Highway 83. Residents will be able to register to vote, receive a replacement ballot, vote in person, or drop off a ballot during the event.

  • Key Dates and Deadlines

    • Friday, October 2: Early voting begins at 7:00 a.m.
    • Monday, October 26: Close of registration
    • Tuesday, October 27: Late registration begins. This means that a person must come into the office in person. Prior to this, we will accept registration applications through the mail.
    • All ballots must be received by 8:00 pm on Tuesday, November 3.
    • Currently Montana does not accept a post mark; ballots must be in the office by 8:00 pm on election day.

    Register to Vote

    Register to vote or check your registration status.

    Absentee/Mail-In Voting

    1. Request an absentee ballot. Print it out, sign it and mail the request form back to your county board of elections.
    2. Receive your ballot in the mail.
    3. Fill your ballot out. You can mail it back or deliver it in person to your local county elections board.

  • Early In-Person Voting

    Any eligible voter can also vote early in-person at their county board of elections, starting on the day after voter registration closes.

    In-person Voting

    Polls are open until 8 p.m. on Tuesday, November 3. You need to bring ID. If you don't, you can request a provisional ballot. (ID rules may vary for absentee ballots and first-time voters.)

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What assistance is there for voters with disabilities? Montana’s Statewide Elections have various options for voters with disabilities or voters who need special assistance; click here for details.

    What are my voting options if I'm a member of the armed forces or overseas? Click here to learn how to vote if you are a member of the armed forces or are otherwise overseas.