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Voter turnout one of highest in past decade



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

“Absentee voting has skyrocketed across the state, with more than 96 percent 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 percent 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 percent voter turnout–the largest percentage in the past decade, excluding the 2008 presidential primary which drew 45 percent of the state’s registered voters.

Because of to the state’s late registration laws, an additional 3,000 citizens cast their ballots in the primary, with more than 1,000 Montanans registering and voting on Election Day.

Unofficial 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 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.

Primary election results are available here:

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