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Record 61% of Votes Cast by Absentee Ballot in Primary Election
Voter Turnout One of Highest in Past Decade

HELENA, MT – Secretary of State and Chief Elections Officer Linda McCulloch says more than 61% of the total votes cast in Montana’s 2012 primary election were cast by absentee ballot. The record is a nearly 30% increase over the last statewide presidential primary in 2008.

Photo of typical ballot secrecy envelope used for absentee balloting“Absentee voting has skyrocketed across the state, with more than 96% of those voting in Yellowstone County casting an absentee ballot,” Secretary McCulloch said. “It’s not just an upward trend. For many Montanans, it’s the preferred method of voting.”

County election offices issued a record 189,718 absentee ballots for the 2012 primary election, compared to 143,161 in the 2010 primary and 109,545 in the 2008 primary. Voters returned about 77% of the issued ballots, casting a record 146,312 votes by absentee ballot.

Voters also hit the polls on Election Day, contributing to a 37% voter turnout – the largest percentage in the past decade, excluding the 2008 presidential primary which drew 45% of the state’s registered voters.

“Montana has some of the most accessible and secure elections in the country,” Secretary McCulloch said. “Thanks to the state’s late registration laws, an additional 3,000 qualified citizens were able to cast their ballot in the primary, with more than 1,000 Montanans registering and voting on Election Day.”

Elections results for statewide, state district and county races became available to the public on the Secretary of State’s website shortly after the polls closed at 8:00 p.m. The transparent online service works in coordination with Montana’s 56 county Election Administrators who entered the results as they became available. Despite some counties experiencing tornadoes and loss of power due to the weather on election night, all 794 precincts were counted and reported by Wednesday morning.

“Thank you to the voters, election workers and volunteers for a continued commitment to upholding the integrity of Montana’s elections,” Secretary McCulloch said. “I’m looking forward to completing the official statewide canvass of election results in the coming weeks, and shifting our focus to the fall.”