Montana Public Radio

Montana 2020 Election Day Updates

Nov 4, 2020

Find Montana election 2020 news here, updated throughout the day.

Find results for national and statewide races on our 2020 election results page.

5:20 p.m. 11/04/20

Greg Gianforte Will Be Montana's First Republican Governor In 16 Years

"Folks, tonight you’ve sent a loud message to Helena. A message to the State Capitol from every corner of this great state; that after 16 long years of single party rule in the governor’s office it’s time for Helena to change the way they do business," Gianforte told supporters Tuesday night. Read more

Steve Daines Wins Second Term In U.S. Senate

Republican Steve Daines clinched a second term in the U.S. Senate yesterday, defeating Democratic Governor Steve Bullock.

"I’m grateful that the good common sense, the good horse sense, of Montanans didn’t listen to all that out of state money flooding into Montana from Chuck Schumer," Daines told his supporters Tuesday night. Read more

Montanans Elect Matt Rosendale To The U.S. House

Republican State Auditor Matt Rosendale will be Montana’s next representative in Congress after defeating Democrat Kathleen Williams. The Associated Press called the race late last night.

“I cannot thank the people across this state enough for the outpouring of support that they’ve made and how humbled I am to be representing them,” Rosendale said to supporters Tuesday night. Read more

Montana Republicans Sweep Down-Ballot Races

Montana Republicans came away from election night sweeping statewide downballot races, according to the Associated Press.

Republican Deputy Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen will become the next secretary of state after defeating Democratic state Sen. Bryce Bennett.

Republican Roosevelt County Attorney Austin Knudsen beat Democrat Raph Graybill to take over as attorney general. Graybill is Gov. Steve Bullock’s chief legal counsel.

Republican businessman and combat veteran Troy Downing was elected state auditor over Democrat Shane Morigeau, an outgoing member of the state House of Representatives.

Republican incumbent Elsie Arntzen will remain superintendent of public instruction, defeating Democratic challenger Melissa Romano, in a repeat of the 2016 matchup for that office.

The GOP’s Troy Downing notched a victory against Democratic challenger Shane Morigeau to be Montana’s next State Auditor.

The Associated Press reports that Republicans Tony O’Donnell and James Brown have won their races for Montana Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities in the state. Counting is ongoing for the race between Republican Jennifer Fielder and Democrat Monica Tranel, and no winner has yet been announced.

Montanans Vote To Legalize Marijuana

Montana joined four other states Tuesday in legalizing marijuana for recreational use by adults. The policies are effective starting next year. At least one legal challenge seeking to invalidate the initiatives is in the works. Read more

2 a.m., 11/04/20

Republicans have won big in Montana tonight. Here's what we know:

President: Trump
Senate: Daines
House: Rosendale
Governor: Gianforte
Marijuana legalization: approved
C46 & 47: approved

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Marijuana Legalization Initiatives Approved

Montana's marijuana legalization initiatives CI-118 and I-190, have passed, according to the Associated Press.

Cannabis in jars. Stock photo.
Credit iStock

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12:25 a.m., 11/04/20

Cooney Concedes Governor's Race

Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney conceded the race for governor earlier this hour. Cooney congratulated Gianforte and said he’d do everything he could as lieutenant governor to ensure a smooth transition between administrations, despite differences in priorities.

Associated Press: Matt Rosendale Wins U.S. House Race

The Associated Press is reporting that Republican Matt Rosendale has won the U.S. House race in Montana.

Rosendale, who serves as Montana’s state auditor, defeated Democrat Kathleen Williams, a former state lawmaker.

Reached by phone, Rosendale said, "Thank you for all the support. I’m absolutely honored to win their support, to be the only congressman representing the state of Montana."

The seat was up for grabs as Republican U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte ran for governor.
 

The Associated Press is reporting that Republican Matt Rosendale has won the U.S. House race in Montana.

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11:55 p.m., 11/03/20

Associated Press: Steve Daines Wins Montana's Senate Race

Incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Daines addresses a crowd of more than 100 supporters in an open-air tent outside the Hilton Garden Inn in Bozeman, Nov. 03, 2020.
Credit Nick Mott / Montana Public Radio

The Associated Press is reporting Republican Steve Daines has been reelected to the Montana Senate seat he wrested from Democrats six years ago. 

The former business executive and President Donald Trump loyalist defeated the state’s Democratic governor, Steve Bullock. 

Daines’ reelection further solidifies the GOP’s political dominance in the state. His 2014 victory broke a Democratic lock on the Senate seat that had lasted more than 100 years. 

Bullock is a two-term Montana governor who entered the race in March after dropping a presidential bid that attracted little support. 

The race was among a handful nationwide expected to decide which party controls the Senate.

The Associated Press is reporting that Republican Steve Daines has won the race for Montana's U.S. Senate seat.

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Gianforte Addresses Supporters After AP Calls The Governor's Race

The Associated Press is reporting that Republican Greg Gianforte has won the race for Montana governor. Gianforte spoke to about 100 supporters at a watch party in Bozeman earlier this hour.

"Folks, tonight you’ve sent a loud message to Helena. A message to the State Capitol from every corner of this great state; that after 16 long years of single party rule in the governor’s office it’s time for Helena to change the way they do business."

Gianforte, who serves as Montana’s lone member of the U.S. House, defeated Democratic Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney.

Greg Gianforte speaks to supporters in an open-air tent outside Hilton Garden Inn in Bozeman, shortly after the AP called the governor's race in his favor, Nov. 03, 2020.
Credit Nick Mott / Montana Public Radio

Throughout his campaign, Gianforte has said his number one priority as Montana’s next governor will be rebooting the state’s economy by reforming Montana’s tax code and reducing what he calls unnecessary regulations.

As for handling the rising number of people sick with COVID-19, Gianforte has said he will emphasize providing Montanans guidance over imposing government mandates.

Keys to the governor’s officer were up for grabs as Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock was termed out and ran for the U.S. Senate. Gianforte was endorsed by President Donald Trump and is known for assaulting a reporter in 2017.

He will be Montana’s first Republican governor in 16 years. One of the wealthiest members of Congress, Gianforte touted his business experience, which includes founding a start-up technology company in his hometown of Bozeman that was eventually sold for almost $2 billion.

About an hour ago, immediately after the AP called the race, Democratic candidate Mike Cooney said he's not conceding.

Lt Gov. Mike Cooney’s campaign manager Brad Elkins said in a statement, "There are literally Montanans still in line voting and major counties including Butte Silver Bow, Cascade, Hill and all of Indian Country have yet to be counted. This race isn’t over and Mike Cooney is not conceding the election."

A Montana Democratic Party spokesperson says Cooney is watching election results at the Great Northern Hotel

11:20 p.m., 11/03/20

Cooney Says He's Not Conceding The Governor's Race Yet

Montana’s Democratic candidate for governor is not conceding the election after the Associated Press called the race for his Republican opponent just at 10:41 p.m.

AP declared Republican Congressman Greg Gianforte the winner with fewer than 20 percent of precincts fully reporting.

Lt Gov. Mike Cooney’s campaign manager Brad Elkins said in a statement, "There are literally Montanans still in line voting and major counties including Butte Silver Bow, Cascade, Hill and all of Indian Country have yet to be counted. This race isn’t over and Mike Cooney is not conceding the election."

A Montana Democratic Party spokesperson says Cooney is watching election results at the Great Northern Hotel. Montana’s gubernatorial race is considered one of the nation’s tightest. 

Gianforte is expected to address supporters at a watch party in Bozeman shortly.

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11 p.m., 11/03/20

Daines Addresses Supporters In Bozeman

Incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Daines addresses a crowd of more than 100 supporters in an open-air tent outside the Hilton Garden Inn in Bozeman, Nov. 03, 2020.
Credit Nick Mott / Montana Public Radio

As the ballots trickle in, incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Steve Daines says he’s cautiously optimistic about where the night’s headed. Montana Public Radio’s Nick Mott reports. 

A rowdy crowd of more than 100 — both masked and unmasked — greeted Daines in an open-air tent outside the Hilton Garden Inn in Bozeman.

"I will tell you this, we are consistently beating every one of our targets in every county that’s come in so far," Daines said.

Polls before election day showed a neck-and-neck race between Daines and Democratic Governor Steve Bullock in one of the most closely watched and expensive Senate races in the country.

"This is such an important race, because as the Montana race goes, so goes likely majority control of the United States Senate."

As the crowd cheered and chanted, Daines made clear: the night is still young, and he’ll keep watching the polls.

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10:50 p.m., 11/03/20

The Associated Press is reporting that Republican Greg Gianforte has won the race for Montana governor.

The Associated Press is reporting that Republican Greg Gianforte has won the race for Montana governor.

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8:45 p.m., 11/03/20

Democratic U.S. Senate Candidate and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock addressed voters shortly before polls closed on election night. Yellowstone Public Radio's Kevin Trevellyan reports from the Montana Democratic Party’s election night headquarters at the Helena Civic Center.

In a Facebook livestream, Bullock thanked organizers and volunteers, who he said knocked on more than 500,000 doors and made more than 2 million phone calls on his behalf.

“I know this has been an incredibly long campaign season, but every day I’ve been inspired by you all, who took time out of your busy lives to help me along the way.”

Bullock praised the record-breaking voter turnout seen in Montana. The race between him and incumbent Republican Sen. Steve Daines is considered a toss up. It could play a role in determining which party controls the Senate.

While candidates are periodically stopping by the Helena Civic Center, a Montana Democratic Party spokesperson says Bullock is watching results come in with his family at the Great Northern Hotel.

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7:45 p.m., 11/03/20

Voter Voices: In Hardin, Getting Out The Vote Includes Phones, Cars And Bikes

In the final hours of the election, advocates working to get out the Native American vote in Montana are pulling out all the stops to connect with difficult to reach voters.

Yellowstone Public Radio's Kaitlyn Nicholas reports from Hardin, where absentee ballot returns trail the rest of the state. Read more

Lauri Kindness, regional organizer for Western Native Voice, stands behind their voter pop-up station across the street from Big Horn County's courthouse in Hardin. A ballot drop off box at the county courthouse in Hardin, MT, November 3, 2020.
Credit Kaitlyn Nicholas / Yellowstone Public Radio

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7:15 p.m., 11/03/20

Voter Voices: In Helena, Carside Service, Pepper And Voting Against Bullies

Lewis and Clark County voters who didn’t want to enter the elections headquarters in Helena today instead parked in a lot across the street, where staff helped them register and cast ballots through their car windows.

Yellowstone Public Radio's Kevin Trevellyan caught up with several of the mid-morning “park and go” voters, and a few others outside their cars, to see what their big issues are this election season. Read more

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6:40 p.m., 11/03/20

In Butte, One Election Volunteer Does It For The Love

Even with mail voting, people still love going to the Butte Civic Center to vote, says volunteer Rich Henningsen. And he loves seeing them.

Montana Public Radio's Nora Saks spoke with Rich Henningsen, a long time volunteer with the Butte Silver Bow county Clerk and Recorder’s office, about what election day has been like so far at the Civic Center. Read more

A sign outside the Butte Civic Center encourages voters to show up and vote. Nov. 03, 2020.Credit Nora Saks / Montana Public RadioEdit | Remove

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6 p.m., 11/03/20

Voter Voices: In Missoula, Voters Talk Unity And The Lesser Of Evils

Voters in Missoula today dropped off their remaining ballots and stood in long lines to register and vote. MTPR’s Megan Myscofski talked to a few of them at the Missoula County Elections Office and the University of Montana’s ballot drop-off site. Read more

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4:15 p.m., 11/03/20

Voter Voices: Gallatin County Voters Are Thinking About The Outdoors

In Gallatin County, where 82 percent of absentee ballots had been returned by mid-morning, around 75 people stood in line at the fairgrounds a few hours after the polls opened. Volunteers in green vests asked people from different households to stay six feet apart, which was marked by orange cones.

Yellowstone Public Radio's Rachel Cramer spoke with several people after they cast their ballots. Read more

People vote in person at the Gallatin County Fairgrounds in Bozeman on election day, Nov. 03, 2020.
Credit Rachel Cramer / Yellowstone Public Radio

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3:45 p.m., 11/03/20

Voter Voices: In Billings, Long Lines And Perfect Weather

In Yellowstone County 83 percent of absentee ballots had been returned as of Election Day morning. Voters in Billings reported waiting two to three hours to register to vote and cast their ballots this morning at MetraPark, the main polling station for the most populated city in the state.

As Yellowstone Public Radio's Jess Sheldahl reports, a few hours after the polls opened at 7 a.m. the weather was perfect for waiting. Read more

Voters line up in the morning to register to vote and cast their ballots outside the MetraPark pavilion in Billings on Election Day. November 03, 2020.
Credit Jess Sheldahl / Yellowstone Public Radio

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7 p.m., 11/02/20

Montanans Break Voter Turnout Record Before Election Day Arrives

More Montanans have cast ballots in the 2020 general election than any election before. Montana broke the record Monday, with two full days of voting left, meaning that count will climb before polls close on Tuesday at 8 p.m. Read more

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Montana County Election Officials Start Tabulating Absentee Ballots

This is the first federal election that county staff can start counting ballots with automatic machines the morning before Election Day, thanks to a law passed by the 2019 Montana Legislature. Lewis and Clark County Elections Administrator Amy Reeves says the jumpstart should mean Montanans get quicker results after the polls close. Read more

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Be Prepared For Long Lines On Election Day, Officials Say

Although most Montana counties have opted for all-mail voting this year, voters could face long lines on Election Day in some counties.

It’s too late for voters to return ballots by mail. They must be returned in-person to drop-off locations. People wishing to vote can still register and vote at their county election office before 8 p.m. on election day.