(Missoula Current) Montana's General Election is quickly approaching and ballot returns in Missoula County – the largest voting bloc in the state's new Western congressional district – continue to lag.

Missoula County on Friday said the rate of ballot returns sat at just over 51%, well behind the 70% return rate at this point in 2020. That leaves a large number of ballots still sitting on kitchen tables across the county.

“It's possible we will still have a large number of ballots to tabulate heading into the evening (on election night),” said county communications director Allison Franz. “If this is the case, it may delay results and the ability to call races on election night.”

Those who wait until Tuesday to cast a ballot may face chilly temperatures. The forecast high is 24 degrees with nighttime lows in the single digits.

While ballot return rates remain low, they have improved since earlier this week. On Tuesday, county officials said just 38% of ballots had been returned at that point.

This year's ballot includes three ballot initiatives, including a levy request for crisis services, a bond request for the fairgrounds, and a question regarding “born alive” infants. A race for Missoula County commissioner is on the table, along with Montana's new Western District representative to Congress.

A number of legislative seats are also up for grabs, along with Justice of the Peace, a state constitutional amendment regarding electronic privacy, and a seat on the Montana Supreme Court.

Franz said county election officials will release initial results shortly after 8 p.m. on Tuesday, followed by an updated count just before 10 p.m.

“To ensure accuracy and reduce the risk of human error, elections staff will wrap up ballot tabulation at midnight on Election Day and resume at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, if needed,” Franz said.

Voters can track Missoula County results by following this link.