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Missoula Municipal Voter Turnout Much Higher Than Expected

Absentee Ballots
Photo courtesy of Jon King

Early turnout forecasts of around 25 percent for Missoula’s municipal election turned out to be way below the final results.

“We saw 43 percent voter turnout,” said Missoula Election Coordinator Rebecca Connors. “50 percent of the ballots that we issued were returned and accepted by our office and so those were really great numbers. This morning I hopped online and looked at our voter turnout for past elections and last year’s presidential primary we had 42 percent turnout, so we were right in line with a presidential primary.”

One of the reasons for the low-turnout forecast was the slow rate at which ballots were returned. Connors infers that this is possibly because of the infamous “Bodyslam” incident that occurred during the last hours of the race between Greg Gianforte and Rob Quist.

“I think voters were a little shy to return their ballots too early, in case anything had changed with any of the candidates or campaigns,” Connors said. “They wanted to make sure that their vote was the right vote and that there weren’t going to be any last minute changes that might compromise how they wanted to cast their ballot and I think that that is a reflection of the May 25th Special Election where we had headlines created the night before the election.”

There was one slight hiccup during Tuesday’s election, Conners says many voters went to Hellgate Elementary to drop off ballots, but the site was unavailable because of ongoing construction. The Missoula Elections office is currently trying to find a new polling place near Hellgate Elementary for next year’s election.


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