HELENA — Montanans will be able to go online Tuesday night and track the unofficial election results for the statewide and district races on a website developed for Secretary of State Linda McCulloch’s office.
The website was available on a trial, or beta, version on the primary election night and was not widely advertised. It worked fine, and some new features have been added.
Now McCulloch is hoping many Montanans will use her office’s election night reporting system to view the results as they come in from across the state.
The service will be available at sos.mt.gov, after the polls close at 8 p.m. Tuesday. Click on a big box that says, “General election results available here.”
Site users will be able to get statewide, district, county-by-county and even precinct-by-precinct results, with bar graphs, as results come in for these races: U.S. House, Montana Supreme Court, Public Service Commission, statewide ballot issues and state House and Senate races.
The website allows users to obtain maps showing which counties one candidate leads in and which ones the other does. The data also can be downloaded into a spreadsheet.
In addition, people may click little boxes on which races they want to follow and the list will show up on their computers. The system refreshes itself and gets new vote totals, if any are available, every five minutes or more often if people do it themselves.
It will identify races close enough to potentially be subject to a recount and keep tabs on voter turnout.
But McCulloch reminded voters that “everything is unofficial until the canvass.” The canvass is the official tally and takes place later.
With suggestions from McCulloch and her staff, a South Dakota company developed the Montana website, based on one it did in that state, said Harper Lawson, McCulloch’s chief of staff. North Dakota is using the same system.
McCulloch said the new online vote-tallying system has been tested many times and works well.
“But nothing is crash-proof,” McCulloch said. “I think we’ve done everything we can possibly do make sure it works properly on election night.”