MISSOULA — The November 3 election is just around the corner and Missoula County is gearing up for what's expected to be one of the biggest years -- if not record-breaking -- for voter turnout.
County elections officials say that as of Thursday morning 71% of all ballots sent out in Missoula County have been returned early.
Missoula County Elections Administrator Bradley Seaman says they're expecting long wait times on election day and are encouraging people to get their ballots in early.
“I really truly hope that we can have a turnout record,” he told MTN News.
Seaman says the highest voter turnout in Missoula County's history was more than 80% which happened for the 1976 presidential election between Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford.
He says the way we calculate voter turnout has changed since then so comparing is a little tricky, but the total number of people voting this year is a record.
"In particular, we have more ballots before Election Day than we have ever seen,” Seaman said.
The U.S. Postal Service says if a voter has not mailed their ballot yet, they should drop it off.
It should be noted that on Election Day there will be no drive-through drop box at the Missoula County Elections Center on North Russell Street.
However, the Elections Center will be opened to limited services such as late registration and ballot replacement.
"That helps us with the flow of traffic the flow of voters through this building, so we have a safe parking lot and a safe voting experience inside this building as well,” Seaman said.
He added the actual wait times at the Elections Center will depend on just how many people show up.
Seaman says you can call the elections office at (406) 258-4751 to see if your ballot has been received.
There will be 11 ballot drop-off locations across Missoula on Election Day.