UPDATE: The Lincoln County election returns came in Thursday afternoon and former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke was declared the winner in Montana's Western Congressional District. Here are the statements from both Secretary Zinke and Dr. Al.


Original Post from June 8, 2022

For those wondering who won the GOP primary election for the Western Congressional seat in Montana, we may not have the answer until Friday. So what's the holdup?

Apparently the ballots that were printed in Lincoln County, Montana were the wrong size for the tabulator machines that count the votes. As a result, Lincoln County elections officials are counting all of the votes by hand, and ballots were still pouring in as of 10 p.m. on Tuesday night.

State Senator Mike Cuffe (R-Eureka) explained what he is hearing from local election officials.

Sen. Cuffe: Due to a last minute snafu, Lincoln County authorities decided to do a full hand count for this election. There are nearly 15,000 registered electors, and 60 percent requested write in ballots. Since some ballots were trimmed too much, they were unable to work in the automatic counting machines. Administrator Buff said it is too early to estimate how long the counting will take, but believes complete counts will be available no later than Friday, probably sooner.

A spokesperson for the Montana Secretary of State's office confirmed the news, telling me that an outside vendor used by the county printed the ballots on a size that could not be read by the machine. According to Montana law, ballots need to be counted by machine or by manual count. Lincoln County chose to manual count the ballots.

Why does hand counting the ballots take so long?

Sen. Cuffe: Ballots are counted by teams of three with one reading and two recording, similar to the process used in post election audits. Buff had the crews working in a very serious and orderly manner. By 10 pm, the ballots were still coming into the Election Center in the Courthouse Annex.

The latest election results can be found on the Montana Secretary of State's website.

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