All the issues are on the table and all the candidates running in this year’s municipal elections will be decided by voters next Tuesday. And with the countdown to Election Day underway, the ballots have been rolling in.
At least 33 percent of them.
As of noon on Friday, Missoula County Elections Supervisor Bradley Seaman said he’s received 14,485 ballots back out of the 43,678 that were issued.
“We’ve had 33.16 percent of our ballots returned,” said Seaman. “We’d love to get that number up as high as we can by 8 p.m. on Election Day. I expect to see a big push on Monday and Tuesday, but we’re really just stressing to make sure they get in by 8 p.m. on Election Day.”
Seaman said the percentage of ballots returned versus overall voter turnout will differ once the polls close on Tuesday. While more than 43,000 ballots have been issued, the county has roughly 51,000 registered voters, though 8,000 of them are considered inactive.
In 2015, with all six City Council wards on the ballot and two major school bonds on the table, the voter turnout was 25 percent. That figure included all registered voters, not just the number of ballots returned out of those issued.
“On Election Day, we give our voter turnout, and that’s the number of people who voted out of all registered voters,” said Seaman. “That’s often a different number, because an inactive voter – someone who didn’t vote in the last federal general election – doesn’t automatically get mailed a ballot.”
Those voters can request a ballot at election headquarters.
In Ward 4, where voters will choose one of four candidates, the elections office has accepted 2,661 ballots thus far out of the 7,469 that were issued.
In Ward 3, where voters will choose one of three candidates, 1,944 ballots have been accepted out of 7,895 ballots issued. Citywide, more than 23,980 ballots have not been returned.
“We have 10 different dropoff locations, and postmarks do not apply,” said Seaman. “We do a final pick up at 8 p.m. at the Post Office, but if they’re still being processed and they’re not in that final pickup, they don’t get counted.”