There could be quite a few absentee stragglers who bring in their ballots on election day.

It's tough to gauge how many voters will cast ballots the old-fashioned way, in the voting booth.

Early voters are studying choices hard.

Jim Parker of Hamilton is a Democrat who voted on the Republican primary ticket. He didn't think the Democratic ballot was as crucial as the Republican.

Parker thinks local races trump state contests.

"Scandals, suits, funding turn-down," said Parker, "is just a failure of leadership and I'm really concerned about the future of the valley."

NBC Montana talked to several Democrats who made a choice to vote Republican in June, then pick up their party favorites again in November.

At least two hotbed issues are keeping voters on both sides interested are the county's rejection of Title 10 funding, which closed reproductive health services in the health department.

There's also the continuing crisis that put the county treasurer on paid administrative leave when her office went into a tailspin over late financial reports.

Jim Campbell is a Republican. He studied his ballot hard. He thinks some members of his party have been too inflexible. But he sees many sides.

He voted the Republican ticket.

"I kind of agree with parts of both of what they call Tea Party Republicans and the mainstream Republicans," said Campbell.

Many absentee voters said they are turning in their ballots at the midnight hour because they want as much time as possible to study it, and to find out new information on candidates'

public forums.