60% of Montana absentee ballots returned

60% of Montana absentee ballots returned

HAMILTON, Mont. - It's only a week until the special Congressional election when we will know who Montana's United States Representative will be.

On the ballot are Republican Greg Gianforte, Democrat Rob Quist and Libertarian Mark L. Wicks. One of those men will replace Ryan Zinke, who resigned to become Interior Secretary.

According to the Montana Secretary of State's office, of the 350,751 absentee ballots sent out, 209,154 have been returned, or a 60-percent return rate. 

Regina Plettenberg, the president of the Montana Clerk and Recorders Association, said those are "fantastic" numbers.

Plettenberg said she thinks the majority of voting in this special election will be by absentee.  Voters will also cast ballots at the polls May 25.

In Ravalli County 68 percent of the absentee ballots sent out have been returned. On Thursday NBC Montana met several voters who came into the Elections Office requesting absentees.

Mathias and Wendy Tallis of Darby came in to vote.

"I was going to make sure I do get it in on time," said Mathias. "Early is fine."

The couple lives in a rural stretch of the valley. It's a long trip to town, and this was a good day to vote.

"It's easier for us to do it on our own schedule," said Wendy.

Of the absentees Missoula County sent out 53 percent have been returned.

In Cascade County it's 58 percent. In Silver Bow County 60 percent have been returned. In Flathead County 62 percent, and in Gallatin County 54 percent have been returned.

In Ravalli County Lillian Thayer got her ballot in early.

"I'm going on vacation next week," she said. "So I thought I'd get in here on my lunch hour and vote."

Thayer said it's an odd time for an election, so she made a mental note to get her ballot in so she wouldn't forget.

Voters in the Hamilton School District may have extra incentive to vote in this special election. They have a bond election and general fund levy to decide on, which have received a good deal of attention in the community.

"I don't have any children in the school system, so it really doesn't affect me," said Hamilton voter Sam Evans. "But I do like to have a say in what my community does."

Evans said it's his civic duty to vote, and getting his absentee in early will give him more freedom to enjoy the Memorial Day weekend.

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