HAMILTON — There aren't a lot of races being decided in today's primary election in the Bitterroot. But that isn't slowing what's looking to be a strong turnout as voters cast their ballots by mail.
Today's Ravalli County votes are being driven by a handful of issues, but ones that are getting a lot of attention. At the top of the list is the GOP Legislative showdown between Nancy Ballance and Theresa Manzella, and a Republican runoff to replace out-going county commissioner Chris Hoffman.
Voters are also deciding the fate of an important funding package for the Hamilton library.
And in this traditional GOP stronghold, the state and federal races are also generating a lot of interest. That's pushed turnout to the mid-50 percent range, which is actually ahead of the absentee voting we saw here in the 2016 presidential election year. The turnout is an important mark because it's the first time the county has run a "major" election strictly through the mail.
"I think our highest turnout in the past has been 48 percent," Ravalli County clerk and recorder Regina Plettenberg said. "That's with polls and absentees. And that was in 2016, the last presidential primary. And that was a 48 percent return. So I was expecting this to be higher because of the all-mail."
Ravalli County is operating two places for you to drop your ballots. On the north side of the county administrative building in Hamilton, and at Florence School. Voting closes at 8 p.m.