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HomePoliticsMontana PoliticsOfficials Start Verifying Signatures for Ballot Measures

Officials Start Verifying Signatures for Ballot Measures

June 21st  marked a crucial deadline for advocates aiming to place ballot measures before Montana voters this year. It was the final day to submit tens of thousands of petition signatures to county election offices across the state. Now, county officials must review the signatures and confirm their validity.

To get initiatives on the ballot, signatures are required from a set percentage of registered voters. A statutory initiative needs 5% of the votes cast for governor in the last election—currently 30,180—as well as the same 5% in 34 of Montana’s 100 state legislative districts, which is 302 signatures per district. A state constitutional amendment requires more than twice that: 10% statewide and in 40 districts, which means 60,359 signatures statewide and 604 per district.

Montanans Securing Reproductive Rights is backing Constitutional Initiative 128, which seeks to amend the Montana Constitution to explicitly include a right to abortion and blocks the state from imposing any regulations on abortions. After months of legal wrangling the Montana Supreme Court set aside the usual rules for ballot measures and let the initiative move forward.  The committee reported gathering over 117,000 signatures in just over two months.

Earlier this month, supporters of two proposed constitutional initiatives to reshape Montana’s election system stated they submitted over 200,000 signatures between the two measures. Montanans for Election Reform is promoting CI-126, which would establish a top-four primary, and CI-127, which would require election winners to secure at least 50% of the vote.

County officials now have four weeks to verify the petitions and confirm which signatures are valid. To be certified, a signer must be a registered voter in the county where their signature was submitted. Officials will also check that signatures match those on file for each voter.

During the verification process, signatures can be challenged. By July 19, all counties must send the petitions and certified signatures to the Montana Secretary of State’s Office, which will make the final determination on which measures met the requirements.

This year, seven proposed initiatives were approved to gather signatures. The other four include:

– Constitutional Initiative 124, aiming to remove the Montana Supreme Court’s authority to oversee admission to the State Bar.

– Constitutional Initiative 125, which would allow a grand jury to convene if a certain percentage of a county’s voters sign a petition.

– Initiative 192, which would designate rodeo as Montana’s state sport.

– Initiative 193, which would prevent the state from creating regulations that stop landowners from hunting deer, elk, or black bears on their private property.

By: Big Sky Headlines staff

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