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Missoula County Elections Office begins extended hours in preparation for Nov. 2 election

Ballot validation and counting process already kicking off
Vote Early Day takes place Saturday, Oct. 23
Posted at 4:25 PM, Oct 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-25 11:06:47-04

MISSOULA — Missoula is having a municipal general election in a few short weeks.

That means the races for mayor, city council members, and district justices are all up for a vote.

That’s in addition to two local tax options on marijuana.

Big changes could be on the way for Missoula, and the ballot validation and counting process has already started.

Saturday’s Vote Early Day allowed the public to formally observe that process with a tour.

Local voter Todd Mowbray heard about the tours via email.

“You know it sounded boring at first, but it’s really quite interesting, surprisingly," Mowbray said.

Missoula County Elections Administrator Bradley Seaman gave a detailed explanation of each step showcasing the office's transparency efforts to a small crowd.

Employees carefully worked through each step of scanning in ballots, validating signatures, separating secrecy ballots and more.

“I was amazed at how many double checks there are. I assumed there was a few or a couple. But wow, this was remarkable," Mowbray said.

All the hands and eyes on the ballots are padded by visible security cameras everywhere.

“Those are really there to just help protect the integrity of the election and those ballots," Seaman told MTN News.

Though not required by law, according to Seaman, the cameras were an additional infrastructure change acquired when the elections office moved into the new site in 2020.

“This was an area where we were really excited to be the tip of the spear in election integrity and cover some of these areas," Seaman said.

Early Vote Day also allowed people to come in on a Saturday to register to vote and cast their ballot.

“It kicks off our extended hours that are coming through so we'll be open 'till 6 o'clock (p.m.) next week. And on Thursday and Friday opening at seven (a.m.),” Seaman said.

But a new change this year: voter registration ends at noon the day before Election Day because of a new state law.

“You know, with losing 13 hours of voter registration, I don't know that we can ever bridge that gap because that was a great safeguard to be able to help make sure that every eligible voter got to vote,” Seaman said.

The U.S. Postal Service recommends mailing your ballot no later than Tuesday, Oct. 26. That’s seven days before election day.

To ensure your vote is counted after that day, you can hand deliver your ballot to the Elections Center up until 8 p.m. Nov. 2.

For more information on Missoula County elections, click here.