Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Late Registration, Technical Problems Slow Vote Count

U.S. Department of State (IIP Bureau) / Flickr

Montana saw an almost 70% voter turnout this week according to the secretary of state’s office. County clerks said that’s larger-than-usual participation for a midterm election, but it also made for a lengthy night and delayed results.

County election offices across Montana were still counting ballots yesterday afternoon, hours after the candidates and voters had hoped the races would be called.

Polls closed at 8 p.m. Tuesday, but that didn’t stop voters from trying to register until the very last moment.

Election official Daniel Wendel said that was true for Lewis and Clark County.

“Our line by 8 p.m., I think it was about two, two-and-a-half hours by that point,” said Wendel. “So, 8 p.m., I went out and stood in the line, and anyone before me was able to register, but anyone who tried to get in the line behind me was too late to register for this election.”

Wendel said the number of people who came by the county elections office Tuesday to register to vote was surprising, especially since the period of late registration wasn’t very busy in Lewis and Clark County. 

Other counties in Montana saw technical difficulties.

Cascade County Clerk Rina Moore said their voting machine was spitting ballots back out for roughly 5 hours because of a processing error.

“We hire an operator to come in from another state,” Moore said. “And [the machine] just limped, so he was feeding 20-30 ballots in a time through it, where we like to see stacks of 2 or 300 going through it.”

Missoula County also experienced technical issues.

Missoula County elections administrator Dayna Cosby said one machine was out of commission for about seven hours.

Cosby, like many other election workers, stayed up through the night to oversee the count. She said on Wednesday afternoon she and her colleagues remained committed to getting the results out to electors as soon as possible.

Kayla writes about energy policy, the oil and gas industry and new electricity developments.