With just over 30 percent voter participation in the mail ballot election for the MCPS bond issue, the vote as of 12:45 a.m. on Wednesday was 9,495 'yes' and 7,636 'no'.

Superintendent Mark Thane expressed gratitude that the voters were willing to invest in Missoula's school system.

"We realize that we're in an interesting position as we continue to grow as a school district," Thane said. "We're up about 461 students since 2010, and as a result, we need to have some additional staff and therefore need to increase our budget capacity. The community's been asked to support public entities a lot and we appreciate that, so striking an appropriate balance was important to us."

Thane was thankful for the 30 percent mail-in turnout, but was hoping for more.

"Yes, 30 percent probably is good for a school election when it's the only thing on the ballot, but I'm a little biased," he said. "I'd like to see the entire community participate in these elections."

Missoula Elections Administrator Rebecca Connors said in the years before school elections were by mail ballot only, turnout at the polls was many times only in the single digits, so the 31 percent voter turnout this year was gratifying.

Connors said the next challenge for her office is the special Congressional election on May 25, which will be a polling place election, however, many of the regular polling places are unavailable due to other activities.

"The new locations that will be unavailable are Chief Charlo, Cold Springs, Franklin, Lolo, Russell and St. Joseph's," she said. "So, Chief Charlo and Cold Springs voters will both go to Meadow Hill School, while Lolo voters will cast their ballots at the Lolo Community Church. Russell School voters will go to Lewis and Clark Elementary, and St. Jo's voters will go to the Missoula Senior Center."

Connors said those who would rather vote absentee can come to the election center at the Missoula County Fairgrounds and cast their ballots there.

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