With a week to go before Election Day, the number of people who already have mailed in ballots is closing in on the total number of votes cast in 2009.
Yellowstone County Elections Administrator Bret Rutherford said 21,144 ballots had been returned by late Monday afternoon.
That compares with the 24,832 ballots cast in 2009, which was also a mail-only election and a ballot with only municipal races. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 8.
Rutherford had predicted that 50 percent of registered voters would cast ballots this year, but with the turnout already at 43 percent, he thinks "we might get up to 60 percent."
The numbers are for all of Yellowstone County, but the vast majority of voters are in Billings. The only other elections in the county this year are three contested City Council races in Laurel and one City Commission race in Broadview.
In Billings, there are contested races in four City Council wards, an uncontested municipal judge race and a $16 million bond issue to build a new Parmly Billings Library.
"I really think it's having that bond on there, having that money on the ballot" that's driving the large turnout, Rutherford said.