New Election Machines - | Montana's News Leader | Billings, MT

New Election Machines

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Last year, folded ballots repeatedly stopped Yellowstone County's ballot-counting machines. It was an issue that significantly slowed the vote count. This year, that shouldn't be a problem. The county has three new, top-of-the-line machines to count ballots. Election Administrator Bret Rutherford demonstrated the new machines for the Yellowstone County Commissioners Tuesday morning.

"They're designed to handle folded ballots, which we see a lot now with our all-mail ballot, or our absentee voters in our federal elections. It does have a sort function on it for blank ballots or damaged ones, or if people make errant marks on it or try to erase the way they voted instead of getting a new ballot. So, it will sort those out without stopping, whereas the old machines would stop every single time." Election judges will then have to handle those irregular ballots.

Election workers began the ballot count a little after nine A.M. Rutherford hoped to have preliminary results ready just after eight o'clock Tuesday night, when the polls close. A final tally wouldn't be available until votes from drop-off points around Billings and Laurel are returned to the office.