Strong voter turnout expected in Lake County

Lake County Nov. 3 Election Line
Posted at 5:03 PM, Nov 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-03 19:04:50-05

POLSON — One western Montana county is seeing one of its largest turnouts while an organization is still trying to gather ballots from one of the county's largest populations.

Elections offices, ballot drop-offs and voting centers have been busy across with one county seeing one of its largest turnouts while an organization is still attempting to gather ballots from one of the largest populations in the county.

Lake County Election Administrator Katie Harding says this year’s turnout is has been the strongest she has ever seen.

“So right now, we are sitting at a 75.66% county-wide turnout, which is higher than our 2016 and 2018 turnout. We didn’t quite get over 14,000 ballots back in 2018, so this is the highest amount of ballots we’ve ever seen,” Harding observed.

Native Americans account for 24% of Lake County’s population according to a 2019 estimate from the US Census Bureau, so it’s important that their voices are heard and that their votes are turned in.

One of the issues though is that the only ballot drop-off location in Lake County is in Polson, so one organization has been helping get ballots from places like Arlee up to the Lake County Courthouse.

“Right now, we are picking up ballots and getting rides to the election office to maximize the Native vote,” Montana Native Vote Digital organizer Joe Upham said. “It’s been a pretty busy day.”

It’s been a pretty busy day -- one that’s not quite finished yet.

“Just want to let everyone know on the Flathead Reservation if you haven’t voted yet -- even if you haven’t registered to vote -- get in contact with us,” Upham said. “You can give us a text or a call at 406-661-3178 and we will make sure your vote gets put in today.”

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office was on hand Tuesday but Sheriff Don Bell said that so far, everything has been running smoothly with no incidents.

Sheriff Bell and his deputies have been busy helping people and will be on hand to answer any questions they can for the rest of the night.

Harding says it might be optimistic, but she hopes to have Lake County's ballots counted by 10 p.m. on Tuesday.