At any given time during Tuesday’s election, over 300 people waited in the roughly four-hour-long line at the Gallatin Valley Courthouse in order to exercise their right to vote.
The line, which snaked through the courthouse and led outside and around the block, was filled with people from all backgrounds waiting to both register to vote and vote.
In Gallatin County, according to the Montana Secretary of State webpage, over 48,000 people voted, making up roughly 68.4 percent of registered voters in the county. In Montana as a whole, nearly 450,000 voted.
Though the line was long, the atmosphere at the courthouse remained calm and positive, said election judge Mary Bardone. She noted that it was “heartwarming and touching” to see so many people, especially students, excited to vote and get involved in the political process.
Brooke Perry, one of many MSU students in line, procrastinated registering to vote, but was convinced to do so by her mother. As a result, she had to wait in line at the courthouse.
Those in line passed time by chatting with neighbors, reading, studying, playing cell-phone games and enjoying treats passed out by helpful strangers. Jessica Sowell and her son Grady brought ice cream and popsicles for those still waiting in line at 7 p.m. Sowell said she was impressed to see that everyone was in “good spirits,” and that she and her son were happy to support those in line.
The polls had an official 8 p.m. closing time, but everyone who was in line to vote before that time was allowed to register and cast their ballots.
The last vote at the courthouse, and in Gallatin County, was cast by MSU student Kaylee Mack just before midnight.