Posted: Nov 15, 2012 2:35 PM by Dennis Bragg - MTN News
HELENA - Voter turnout topped 70% in Montana for last week's election, setting new records for the number of people casting absentee ballots.
The Secretary of State's Office says turnout should hit 72% by the time the election is certified, up from 56% in the mid-term election of 2010. That number is comparable with turnout in the last two presidential elections, when 74% cast ballots in 2008 and 71% in 2004.
However the big election news continues to be the number of absentee ballots, with more than 300,000 voters opting to vote through the mail, or fill out their ballots ahead of time and drop them off. That's nearly half of Montana's 677,000 registered voters but roughly 67% of the voters that cast ballots.
More than 260,000 of those absentee ballots were returned, breaking the previous record from 2008. That continues the strong trend county elections officials had been projecting when they tried to get the Legislature to approve a switch to vote-by-mail as other states have done.
Nearly 20,000 voters opted to register during the late registration period and almost 8,000 registered and voted on Election Day, creating an hours-long backup at the larger polling places.
Ravalli County had the largest turnout in Western Montana, with more than 75%, followed by Flathead and Lake counties at 72% and Missoula County at just under 70%.
Teton, Golden Valley and Carter counties had the largest turnouts in the state, all with turnout over 83%.
Click here to check out voter stats from across Montana.