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Voting at the last minute in Flathead County? Here's how to do it

by CHAD SOKOL
Daily Inter Lake | November 3, 2020 1:00 AM

Procrastinators, be advised: The deadline to vote is almost here.

In Montana, ballots must be received by county election offices by 8 p.m. on Election Day to be counted. The state Supreme Court said so in a ruling in September.

In Flathead County, ballots were mailed Oct. 9. They can be returned at one of six drop boxes until 8 p.m. Tuesday.

One drop box is in the lobby of the county election office at 40 11th St. W. in Kalispell. Others are at Columbia Falls City Hall, 130 Sixth St. W.; Whitefish City Hall, 418 E. Second St.; Bigfork's new library (the former Bethany Lutheran Church Ark building) at 8559 Montana Highway 35; the Lakeside Quick Response Unit building at 201 Bills Road; and the Smith Valley Fire Hall, 3496 U.S. 2 W. near Kalispell.

There are drive-thru locations at the Flathead County Fairgrounds and the alley behind the county election office, off 11th St. W. in Kalispell

The county also has one in-person polling place in Conference Room 200 of the South Campus Building, 40 11th St. W. in Kalispell.

Nearly 97 million Americans had voted as of noon Monday – more than 70% of the number who cast ballots in the 2016 general election, according to the nonpartisan U.S. Elections Project.

More than half of Montanans, about 512,200, had voted as of noon Monday. That's more than 99% of the number who voted in 2016, according to the project.

According to the Montana Secretary of State's Office, nearly 696,300 Montanans were registered to vote in the June primary. Turnout in the primary was nearly 55%, a level not seen since the 1970s.

Turnout is historically much higher in general elections. More than 74% of Montana's registered voters cast ballots in the 2016 general election.

Because Montana and many other states are making widespread use of mail-in voting for the first time this election, the ballot-counting process is expected to take longer than usual. The winners of the presidential race and other contests likely will not be clear on Tuesday night – despite President Donald Trump's insistence on immediate results.

And the apparent leader in each race may change as counts progress in each state, due to various demographic trends. Democrats, for example, may be more likely than Republicans to vote early and vote by mail. Candidates may gain or lose ground as ballots are counted after Election Day.

The election will end when all ballots are counted.

Reporter Chad Sokol can be reached at 758-4434 or csokol@dailyinterlake.com