MISSOULA — Another presidential election cycle has come and gone and with a pause in the excitement, Missoula County officials are turning their focus to the election facility and improvements that need to be made.
The newly acquired facility at 140 North Russell Street in Missoula was used for the first time in the 2020 presidential election – and it was put to the test.
“You know, it was exciting, it was fast, it was pivoting constantly to help make sure we could provide the best service we could,” said Missoula County Elections Administrator Bradley Seaman.
Missoula County signed a lease-purchase agreement for the property in November knowing that improvements would need to be made.
According to a report by our partners at The Missoula Current, those improvements -- along with the cost of purchasing the property -- are estimated to total $3.4 million when all is said and done.
“Now when we came to this building it was set up strictly as an office building in this main area and a warehouse in the area where voters registered during the November election,” Seaman explained.
“So, we started instantly on improvements to that building -- insulation, power, outlets, internet -- those sorts of aspects. And the first period of construction is getting ready to wrap up,” Seaman continued.
Seaman says that Missoula County will request tax increment financing from the Missoula Redevelopment Agency (MRA) next week.
The goal is to keep the current crew, Jackson Contracting Group, on-site for the next phase of what Seaman says are crucial improvements.
“The next steps will be taking the area that was a warehouse for the ice distributor. Converting that into a meeting space as well as the area where we'll count ballots on an election,” Seaman told MTN News.
Also, on the docket, more accessibility for the main office building on site.
“So, the biggest chunk of this is trying to make sure that this building can be accessed on any floor in any area by anybody because we want elections to be as open as possible, and that's currently the only hindrance that we have,” Seaman said.
Missoula County saw record-setting voter turnout in 2020. If that’s the case down the road, accessibility across the election campus will prove vital.