Montana House backs election-related referendums

2013-04-16T18:15:00Z 2013-04-16T18:15:29Z Montana House backs election-related referendumsMissoulian State Bureau
April 16, 2013 6:15 pm  • 

HELENA – After lengthy debates, the House on Tuesday endorsed two proposed referendums dealing with elections.

By a 60-40 vote, the House approved Senate Bill 405 by Sen. Alan Olson, R-Roundup, to change a 2005 state law and end voter registration at 5 p.m. on the Friday before Election Day. People no longer would be able to register to vote on Election Day and then cast their votes same day as has been the case since the 2005 law passed.

Then the House backed SB408, also by Olson, to switch to primary election system in which the names of all candidates from all political parties for each office would appear on the same ballot. The top two vote-getters in each race will appear on the general election ballot. The bill passed 58-42.

Both bills face a final House vote this week.

If the Legislature passes them, the two measures will go directly on the 2014 ballot and avoid likely vetoes by Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock.


Republicans argued that ending Election Day voter registration would provide order by eliminating the long lines of those who hadn’t registered earlier.

Democrats said the bill could suppress the votes of students, Native Americans, veterans and people who have moved and thought they were registered to vote but learned on Election Day they weren’t.

The bill is similar to HB30 by Rep. Ted Washburn, R-Bozeman, which passed both chambers and is headed to Bullock.

In the case of the “top two” primary bill, Republicans supported it, while Democrats opposed it.

Republicans said it would increase voter turnout at primary elections and appeal to independents who don’t like being forced to vote in the primary of one political party or the other.

Democrats said it was an attempt to drive third parties off of the general election ballot.

A similar bill, HB436, by Rep. Scott Reichner, R-Bigfork, was tabled earlier in the session.

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(4) Comments

  1. idiot state
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    idiot state - April 21, 2013 7:49 am
    These are sensible changes and could end the election day mess that happens each time Montanans vote. Other states have wrapped up the voting, tallied their votes and submitted their final numbers.. Not 'ol Montana, which still has stragglers and dopes registering up til the last second and polls in total disarray. The Democrats will no doubt mobilize to fight this, with always the same ol same ol complaints about people being "disenfranchised" (aka inconvenienced) but Montana'd do well to clean up the mess there.
  2. JacksonB
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    JacksonB - April 17, 2013 9:28 pm
    MM, There is nothing about this law that prevents people from registering to vote, it does require a person to take responsibility to get registered, that is the problem with the liberals, they want everybody to hold their hands when they are suppose to be responsible adults and take responsibility for their actions. If you want to vote, make sure you are registered, simple as that, and make sure you do it before it is to late. If you forget, then guess who you have to blame..........Mirror anyone?
  3. Scoop
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    Scoop - April 17, 2013 5:59 pm
    Both would be big improvements and I look forward to supporting them.
  4. montanamuralist
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    montanamuralist - April 16, 2013 6:44 pm
    Obviously the Potter Party learned something from the last election. If you can't beat em.......manipulate the ballot in your favor. If this referendum is passed by non thinking Montanans ( I doubt they vote to eliminate third party candidates from the ballot but who knows in this state, it will most likely be challenged in unconstitutional and denying the right of other parties to participate in the November election....something like that. Since the Mr. Potter Party has already manipulated the legislative districts ( they can't manipulate our one House district in the US best thing is to prevent people from registering to vote and throw candidates off the ballot. Let them rise and fall on their policies, not cheating your way in to office Potter People...
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