State already receives back record number of absentee ballots

The election billed by many as one of the most important in Montana history waits just one day away. Votes have already been cast by hundreds of thousands of Montanans. The state has already received back a record number of absentee ballots.

As of Monday morning, nearly 80 percent of absentees sent to voters have been returned.

“We have issued and already received back a record number of absentee ballots,” said Secretary of State Communications Director Terri McCoy.

She says nearly 240 thousand ballots have been turned back in. That’s already beat the old record set back in the 2008 election of 212 thousand ballots.

Yet, 80 percent of absentee ballots received leaves 20 percent of the ballots still out there. McCoy reminds voters at this point those ballots have to be submitted in person.

“Instead of by mail because all ballots have to be received by the county election office by 8 PM on November 6th and postmarks are not accepted,” she said.

A line of voters stretches out the door of the Lewis and Clark County Elections office.

“It’s been like this since 8 in the morning,” said Election Administrator Marilyn Bracken.

The people in the line are those yet to register to vote.That can be done all the way until the close of polls on voting day at 8 PM.

And if people are in line when the doors close, they do still get to vote. Bracken says during the 2008 election, two lines of people were still out the door of her office.

“We didn’t get done voting those people until 10,” Bracken said.

It’s unclear at this point how long it will take to count the votes, and some of the races look to be very close.

“After all those results are in, we will tag potential recount races as well,” McCoy said.

And with recounts, we may not know the final results  until after election day.

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