Missoula County elections center ready to roll as final votes come in

(KPAX) While many have already turned in their ballots, a long line of voters is still anticipated at the Missoula County Elections Office on Tuesday.

As of early Monday, 80% of the ballots mailed to Missoula County residents had been turned back in. While that’s an impressive number, it still leaves a few thousand remaining in the hands of voters.

Missoula County Elections Administrator Bradley Seaman knows that many like to cast their ballots on Election Day, and he wants those who do to be prepared.

“We want them to know and be prepared that those wait times could be upwards of four hours, knowing that we have limited capacity,” Seaman told MTN News. “Knowing that we have to clean each station, and knowing that we need to enforce social distancing, we want voters to be really well prepared.”

On the topic of social distancing, Seaman said his staff has planned for a big crowd, taking the necessary precautions to keep everyone safe.

“What we’ve done is we’ve marked out six-foot intervals outside our building, and we’ll have all the voters that want to come to the Elections Center at 140 North Russell, queueing in the same line,” Seaman said.

He does not expect any issues regarding safety concerns for voters waiting in line but said they have worked with law enforcement and others to make sure everyone understands security protocols.

“We’ve done a lot of prep-work to help make sure that if anything comes up, law enforcement, election workers, as well as the property owners in other places know and understand that patchwork of election laws that help make sure that Election Day is safe,” Seaman explained.

There is some good news for those heading to the Elections Office to vote on Tuesday – the weather is looking fantastic. However, people planning on getting there early, or have to stay late, should be prepared for cold temperatures.

“This means comfortable clothes, layers in case they’re outside and the weather changes,” Seaman noted. “We do have extra lights that we’ve installed as well as heaters for the evening and early morning hours.”

Seaman wants to remind everyone that they have added an extra ballot drop-off location at McCormick Park on Election Day for those who decide they don’t want to stand in line.

The Missoula County Elections Office is providing a shuttle that will run between McCormick Park and the Elections Center every 15 minutes beginning at 5 a.m. Tuesday and are encouraging to use the shuttle to alleviate congestion at the Elections Center.