By Tim Eberly
The larger the voter turnout for today's city election, the longer the evening for Hill County Clerk and Recorder Diane Mellem and her crew at the courthouse.
Mellem and her "skeleton crew," likely consisting of two of her co-workers, do not count the votes for the election, in which the mayor's job, three Havre City Council seats and the city court judge position are up for grabs.
Five ward judges at each of the four polling locations are responsible for counting the paper ballots when the polls close at 8 p.m. As each ward completes its count, phone calls are placed to Mellem at the courthouse. "We report (the results) as each ward comes in," Mellem said.
If the community provides a high voter turnout, Mellem is anticipating results to crystalize about midnight or possibly later. "If it's a very large election, this could be a very late evening," Mellem said.
Mellem said the morning's turnout was "very steady, according to the judges. If this continues, it's going to be an exceptional turnout for the election."
In the mayoral election, Republican candidate Bob Rice is making his second run at the job, facing Democrat and former Police Chief Mike Shortell.
Incumbent City Judge Joyce Perszyk faces local lawyer Carl White.
Elementary school counselor Dana West, a Democrat, is running against associate professor Cameron Worstell, a Republican, in Ward 1. Democrat Richard Pierson, an eight-year member of the City Council, faces Republican Jerry Hanson in Ward 2.
Incumbent Democrat Thomas Farnham is running unopposed in Ward 3. Republican Erik Meis and Democrat Allen "Woody" Woodwick are on the ballot in Ward 4.
Polling places opened at 7 a.m. The polling places are the Havre High School library (Ward 1), Highland Park School library (Ward 2), Montana State University-Northern's Student Union Building (Ward 3), and the Lincoln-McKinley Elementary School gymnasium (Ward 4).
Nonpartisan candidate Raymond Lipp is running unopposed for mayor in Hingham, while Roger Haas and William Spicher face each other for the alderman at large position.