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Yellowstone County expects ballot counting delay

September 27, 2018

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Yellowstone County elections officials say they expect a delay in counting mail-in ballots this year because the absentee ballot has two pages.

Elections administrator Bret Rutherford tells The Billings Gazette the county will only be able to tally the first page on Nov. 6.

Two ballot initiatives are on the second page — one to increase tobacco taxes to fund continued Medicaid expansion while the other would set cleanup requirements for proposed hard rock mines.

The delay means the final statewide results of those two initiatives may not be known until Nov. 7, especially if the races are close. Almost 60,000 of the nearly 72,000 Yellowstone County ballots cast during the 2016 general election — or 83 percent — were absentee ballots.

State law prohibits processing absentee ballots until the Monday before the election. Rutherford would like to see that law changed.

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Information from: The Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com

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