(HELENA) With the 2016 general election just days away, election officials across the nation are preparing to count votes.

On Friday morning Lewis and Clark County invited the public to watch clerk and recorder Paulette Dehart run the county’s two tabulators through their paces.

“Montana law requires a public test. We test the equipment and allow the public to come in and have the process explained to them and view the machines and view how their votes are count,” said Dehart. “I have two test decks. The one we did this morning checked every single oval, every write-in, it checked for blanks. A lot of times blanks aren’t t necessarily blanks, they could be light lead or light ink, so we stop and look at those ballots because if someone has voted and hasn’t t marked it dark enough, we want to make sure their votes count. All of it is stand-alone, but no internet connection can take place here.”

Story continues below

Paulette also said right around 50-percent of active and inactive registered voters have received absentee ballots, but we’ve got the potential to double that 34,000 sheets of paper to 60,000 and I think it could happen.

“On election day, we will have 30-people working in the counting center, right around 30 and almost 300 people out in the polling places. Polls don’t close till 8:00 p.m. I have out-lying districts, Lincoln, Augusta, Wolf Creek, Craig. We won’t get those ballots till 9:00, 10:00 o clock, so we’ll have that process. So when you said, how long will it take to count? If you start 7:00 in the morning, we still won’t be done till after midnight sometimes,” she said.

If you haven’t mailed your absentee ballot by now, you should deliver it to the city-county building instead of by hand.

If a ballot is mailed now, there’s a chance it won’t make it in time to be counted.

The Secretary of State is also reminding voters that late registration temporarily ends at noon on Monday.

Same day registration will be available at county elections offices until the polls close on election night.

Voters who have voted absentee can track their ballots on the “My Voter Page.”


Click below to visit My Voter Page:

Reporter: Dennis Carlson