Missoula County Elections Center. (Provided by Missoula County)
Tanner Dodd stood in line outside the Elections Center in Missoula County on Election Day waiting to vote in person.
“My dog spilled coffee on my ballot as I was voting,” Dodd said.
Pup Zetta, 1 year old, is half German shepherd and half husky, and one appendage got in the way.
“She’s got a big floofy tail,” Dodd said.
Montanans can still register to vote on Election Day, in part due to a lawsuit that several organizations waged against a law passed by the 2021 Legislature which set the registration deadline earlier.
Statewide, absentee ballots were being returned at a slower pace than in 2018, according to the Montana Secretary of State’s Office. As of noon Tuesday, 63 percent of absentee ballots had been returned, according to data from the state.
At least a couple of counties had plans for counting into Wednesday. Earlier this week, Missoula County noted it might need to wrap up tabulation at midnight and start counting again 10 a.m., Wednesday in order to ensure accuracy and reduce human error.
Reporter Sam Wilson with Lee Enterprises said in a tweet Tuesday that Cascade County anticipated counting after Election Day as well.
“We will be working into Wednesday night, I can tell you that."
Cascade Co's top election official, predicting a high volume of absentee ballots arriving today. Those take longer to process & could extend the timeline to get results. #mtpol https://t.co/MpPQbEn9Zi
— Sam Wilson (@samalwilson) November 8, 2022
In Cascade County, Clerk and Recorder Rina Moore told the Daily Montanan there was one instance of a woman videotaping where she should not have been and she was asked to leave. With that exception, she said operations have been going smoothly.
Moore said that those campaigning outside election headquarters have followed laws around electioneering and have stayed more than 100 feet from entrance of the polling location.
In Gallatin County, at least one first-time voter was turning in a ballot, according to a tweet Whitney Bermes. Bermes is the communications coordinator for the county.
Just met a gentleman in the Gallatin County Courthouse who was here voting for the first time since becoming a US citizen and let me tell you what, that really hit my #ElectionDay heartstrings.
— Whitney Bermes (@wabermes) November 8, 2022
The economy has brought many people to the polls, and reporter Max Dupras, with the Montana Kaimin, talked with one voter in Stevensville who is worried about inflation.
Forest Brown, 44, said voting is just what people should do. The Stevensville native also said he cared about rising prices and inflation.
— Max Dupras (@mxdupras) November 8, 2022
In some places, lines were long, but reporter Jackie Coffin with KTVQ reported the lunch rush in Billings at the Metra wasn’t too long of a wait.
— Jackie Coffin (@Jackie_Coffin) November 8, 2022
The parking lot of the Metra in Billings was partially full, despite the ice and snow as the flurries let up by mid-afternoon. Weather forecasters anticipate the snow will begin again after polls close and the Billings area was predicted to get as much as two inches overnight.
Election officials in Yellowstone County told the Daily Montanan that the turnout was strong, especially because of the tough conditions.
Weather was expected to affect some polling places in Montana.
In Arlee, reporter Jonathon Ambarian for MTN News reported that roughly 70 voters had dropped by the Senior Center by noon since the polls opened.
Making my way across Montana on this #ElectionDay. In Arlee, election judges report they’ve seen about 70 voters at the Senior Center since polls opened this morning. #MTNews #MTPol pic.twitter.com/UYsoX8hq0t
— Jonathon Ambarian (@JSAmbarian) November 8, 2022
At the beginning of Election Day in Missoula, 60.3 percent of ballots had been returned, according to a tweet from @MissoulaVotes, the Missoula County Elections Office.
— Missoula Votes (@MissoulaVotes) November 8, 2022
Around midday in Missoula, voters stood in a line that wrapped around the corner of the Elections Center outside and snaked around inside.
One worker tried to help a voter with the My Voter Page, where people can check their registration status and polling location, but couldn’t pull up the page. Earlier in the day, a spokesperson from the Secretary of State’s Office said the page had been temporarily down.
Outside in Missoula, heat lamps stood along the path to the Elections Center to keep people warm, and inside, elections officials were getting sworn in to help.
Polls close at 8 p.m. Watch results on the Montana Secretary of State Office’s elections results site.
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