HAMILTON — They're coming from every point in the Bitterroot Valley younger, first-time voters, older voters casting ballots for the umpteenth time and everyone in between. In fact, all but about 7,000 ballots are already back.
"So we have about 22,000 ballots back and they're coming in as we speak. And that's what I really want to encourage voters," said Ravali Clerk and Recorder Regina Plettenberg. "If you have your ballot, make sure you get it back either before Election Day, you can drop it off here. At this point we're not recommending mail."
Plettenberg also told MTN News she expects turnout to top 80%.
Those number are high, even in Ravalli County where patriotic tendencies run deep. Election workers will be operating the drop point not only Friday, but Saturday as well.
"If you don't have a ballot those are the days I would recommend coming in. But we will be open on Election Day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. And we'll also be open Monday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for replacement ballots. Unfortunately for new registrations that closes at noon on Monday. That's just a poll law that we have to follow," said Plettenberg.
On Election Day only, ballots can also be dropped at the Florence Fire Hall, Whitesitt Funeral Home in Stevensville, the Fairgrounds in Hamilton and the Darby Clubhouse.
But Plettenberg said with the potential for schools closing because of the pandemic she had to use options that weren't government buildings, as the county has done in the past.
"The Darby Clubhouse isn't a government building either. And we can use those. I mean we can use, in the past used to have a funeral home as a polling place. This is not really unusual to us, but I know for the voters in the recent past I've used schools, so it seems weird," said Plettenberg.
Plettenberg suggests if you have question about vote-by-mail business to call her office with questions.
With the pace of ballot returns, Plettenberg said turnout may be as high as 85 percent when the voting stops this coming Tuesday.