By Jessianne Castle EBS Contributor
LIVINGSTON – Despite a turn to snowy weather on Nov. 6, long lines of people turned out to the polls, waiting to cast their vote in the general election. As of EBS press time at 5:45 p.m. on Nov. 7, of the nearly 80,000 people registered to vote in Gallatin County, 47,349 votes had been counted, while state totals indicated that the incumbents, Democratic Sen. Jon Tester and Republican Rep. Greg Gianforte, were heading back to Washington.
At EBS press time, 474,845 ballots had been counted state-wide, amounting to approximately 67 percent of Montana registered voters, while 118 precincts in the state still had not reported full vote tallies.
Initial results were delayed in Gallatin County due to unexpectedly long lines. A traffic accident in Gallatin Canyon the night of the election also delayed counting ballots from West Yellowstone, which were driven to Bozeman after the polls closed.
“It’s been out the door and up the block the entire day. It started at 7 o’clock and it’s been that way the whole day. A lot more of late registrations than we ever expected,” Gallatin County Election Administrator Charlotte Mills told Montana Public Radio at 9:45 p.m. on
“It’s really tough when you have, when everybody in the office has already been here for 13, 14 hours and we have to put in another 30,” she added.
Preliminary results indicate that Montana voted down ballot initiative 185 to raise tobacco taxes in order to fund an expansion of Medicaid. Voters also denied I-186, which would have added restrictions for the development of new hardrock mines.
Voters did pass legislative referendum 129, prohibiting individuals from collecting ballots unless they are elected officials, postal service workers, caregivers, family members, household members, or individuals known by the voter.
The request to renew the 6-mill levy for the Montana University System, LR-128, also received support from voters.