MISSOULA — Following a high voter turnout, Missoula County elections staff stepped away Tuesday night for a break after a hectic day -- but with plans to resume the counting process at 11 a.m. Wednesday.
Tuesday's elections were busy, to put it mildly -- and at the Missoula County Fairgrounds, election workers worked through a high rate of ballots from the county's voters.
Missoula County Elections Administrator Bradley Seaman said the county return rate is up over 90% in the 2020 election, with over 71,000 ballots accepted.
There have also been 900 new registered voters.
Over 68,000 ballots have been counted, and late Tuesday evening, those who got in line at the Election's Office before 8 p.m. were still allowed to vote late into the evening.
The election hasn't been easy in a pandemic, but Seaman said things have gone smoothly for the most part for voters, aside from long wait lines, and officials have worked to keep people safe and allow them to find a way to vote.
"It takes a whole village, from everybody we have staffing our elections office to the people working our election day drive-thru drop-offs, the people working in here, and the reality is,"” Seaman said.
“I've been saying a lot, we can issue ballots, we can count votes, but it's up to the voters to get us these numbers and high return rates,” he added.
Election workers will start counting ballots again at 11 a.m. on Wednesday and results will start to be updated once again Wednesday afternoon.
Elections staff paused ballot counting on Tuesday night because of a lag between ballots received that still need to be signature verified and accepted before they could be sent to the counting center.