MISSOULA - It was a hive of activity at the Missoula County Elections Center on Tuesday.
MTN News was there along with the other observers who watched workers take the ballots out of envelopes and take them to the sorting machines on the other side of the room.
Officials said more than 42% of mailed ballots had been returned, marking the highest tally in years. Several general fund levies were on the ballot, asking Missoulians to raise property taxes to pay for school programs.
Another driver of the elections was deciding seats on the school board — with most candidates divided in how they would have handled COVID-19 pandemic protocols. Remote learning gave parents a new look into the classroom, and Tuesday’s results show interest in what happens there.
Missoula County Elections Administrator Bradley Seaman said he's happy with the turnout and proud of the transparency of the counting process.
"It means that the voters care. Just the sheer numbers – 30,000 ballots. When we look back at previous years' elections over the last few years it was under 10,000 ballots. So, what we're seeing is that we are getting a ton of ballots and that people are engaged,” Seaman said. “A lot of times school board elections are elected by acclimation, and this year we've had so many people who've been advocating for what they believe in, running for office, and putting these issues onto the ballot, which is the way the process is intended.
The latest unofficial results from the May 3, 2022 election can be found here.