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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Voter turnout in Montana was around 56%, down from 72% in 2018

Voting booths at the Missoula Public Library.
Josh Burnham
Voting booths at the Missoula Public Library.

Preliminary voter turnout in Montana’s midterm election stands at nearly 56%, with more than 430,000 ballots cast, according to data from the Secretary of State Wednesday afternoon.

Despite a growing population, fewer Montanans appear to have voted this year than in 2018, which saw an unusually high turnout rate for a midterm.

More than 509,000 Montanans voted at a 71.5% turnout rate in 2018. Turnout is measured as the percentage of registered voters who cast a ballot.

Christina Barsky teaches at the University of Montana’s Blewett School of Law and studies election administration. She says a few aspects of this year’s election may be contributing to what appears to be lower turnout relative to the 2020 and 2018 campaigns.

“This is the first midterm in Montana since 2010 that we haven’t had a senatorial race, a gubernatorial race, you know something like that, a presidential race, something that’s drawing voters to the polls. Something that’s more politicized,” Barsky says.

Voter turnout this year is in line with 2010’s rate of about 56%.

Barsky says legal ping-pong in Montana that caused election-day voter registration to be outlawed in the primaries, then permitted for the general election may have also decreased turnout.

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