44 percent of the absentee voters in Missoula have already cast their ballots in the special federal election to fill the seat vacated when Ryan Zinke was named Secretary of the Interior.

Elections administrator Rebecca Connors said the absentee ballots were mailed out on May 1.

"When we mailed our absentee ballots on May 1st, we sent out about 45,000, and since that time we've issued up to 48,000," Connors said. "We've had quite a high number of people appear at the fairgrounds to request a ballot early, That's because they're traveling early because the election is on the Thursday before Memorial Day and they will be out of town for the weekend."

Connors said there are over 72,000 active voters, and about 15 percent are expected to show up at the polls on May 25.

"Of the absentee voters, we have about 44 percent back so far," she said. "About 26 percent of the overall voting population have already cast their ballots. We're seeing a lot of people come in to request their ballots early."

Connors said she has already lined up enough election judges and volunteers to man the polling places on May 25.

On the ballot are Republican Greg Gianforte, Democrat Rob Quist and Libertarian Mark Wicks.