Governor Steve Bullock for US Senate.
Mike Cooney for Governor
Kathleen Williams for Congress US House of Representatives
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• Montana: The Supreme Court has rejected an attempt by Republicans to block a directive by Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock allowing county election officials to decide whether to conduct next month's election by mail; counties home to 94% of Montana residents have opted to do so.
• Montana: The Montana Supreme Court, which lacks a reliable liberal or conservative majority, has blocked a law prohibiting third parties from collecting and returning mail ballots from voters. However, the justices overturned a lower court ruling that allowed ballots to count if postmarked by Election Day and received within a few days afterward, and another that would have given voters the opportunity to cure any problems with their ballots, ruling that it was too close to the election to make such changes without potentially confusing voters and creating administrative problems.
Separately, a federal court has rejected a Republican challenge to an order by Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock allowing local election officials to conduct the November election by mail. Counties that are home to 94% of Montana's population have chosen this option. Republicans are appealing.
• Montana: The Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee have filed a lawsuit in federal court arguing that Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock lacked the power to issue his directive last month allowing counties to choose whether to mail every voter a ballot this fall. All 56 counties chose to implement full vote-by-mail for the primary, and a sizable majority of them, including both Democratic-leaning and Republican-leaning ones and all but one of its eight largest, have opted to do so in recent weeks, meaning a majority of Montana voters will automatically receive ballots for November if Bullock's order remains in place.
Montana: Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock has given county election officials the authority to conduct the November general election by mail, as they had requested. Officials in the state's largest county, Yellowstone (the home of Billings), have already said they would take advantage of this option. Bullock made the same move ahead of Montana's June primary, and all 56 counties opted to run all-mail elections, leading to record turnout.
• Montana: An organization representing local election officials has asked Gov. Steve Bullock to allow counties to conduct the November general election by mail, just as they did Montana's June primary, and have requested he make a decision by Aug. 10. A Bullock spokesperson said the governor is currently consulting with election administrators and health professionals, and specifically took note of the deadline that county officials asked him to observe.
Montana: A state court has issued a preliminary injunction blocking a GOP-supported law that makes it a crime for most Montanans to turn in another person's absentee mail ballot, ruling in favor of the Native American advocates who brought a suit arguing that the statute violates the state constitution. The court had previously blocked the law on a short-term basis days before the June 2 primary, but this latest ruling suspends the law until the judge can issue a final ruling on the law, which may not happen until after November's elections.
The law in question was approved by voters in 2018 after Republican legislators placed it on the ballot to circumvent a veto from Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock. It makes it a felony to turn in someone else's absentee ballot unless the person doing so is the voter's family member, caregiver, household member, or acquaintance, and even those individuals may turn in no more than six others' absentee ballots. Only postal workers and election officials are fully exempt.
Montana is one of a few states that lets voters opt into permanently receiving an absentee mail ballot in all elections, which is intended to make it easier to vote. In addition, the pandemic prompted officials to mail every voter a ballot for the June 2 primary, and mail voting is likely to be very popular in November. However, because many Native Americans living on remote reservations lack reliable postal service and access to transportation, many ask others who do not face such barriers to turn in their ballots for them.
Republican state Attorney General Tim Fox and Secretary of State Corey Stapleton have not yet indicated whether they will appeal, though the lead GOP sponsor of the law said he hoped that they would.
• Montana: Republican Secretary of State Corey Stapleton says that all 56 Montana counties plan to conduct the state's June 2 presidential and downballot primaries by mail, an option that Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock recently made available.
• Montana: Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock has told county election officials that they may conduct the state's June 2 presidential and downballot primaries entirely by mail. Voters would be sent ballots with postage-paid return envelopes, and they'd also be able to vote in person during the state's early voting period, which runs for 30 days leading up the primary.
• Montana: The ACLU has filed a lawsuit in state court seeking to overturn a constitutional amendment that Republican legislators passed and voters approved in 2018 to limit who can turn in someone else's absentee mail ballot, saying that it illegally discriminates against Native American voters. The lawsuit argues that the amendment violates a number of protections in the state constitution, including the right to vote, freedom of speech, freedom of association, and due process.
The amendment makes it a felony to turn in someone else's absentee ballot unless the person doing so is the voter's family member, caregiver, household member, or acquaintance, and even those individuals may turn in no more than six others' absentee ballots. Only postal workers and election officials are fully exempt.
Montana is one of a few states that lets voters opt into permanently receiving an absentee mail ballot in all elections, which is intended to make it easier to vote, and most voters cast their ballot that way. However, because many Native Americans living on remote reservations lack reliable postal service and access to transportation, many ask others who do not face such barriers to turn in their ballots for them. Plaintiffs noted that get-out-the-vote organizers often collect 80 or more ballots each.
Neither liberals nor conservatives hold a reliable majority on Montana's Supreme Court, making it uncertain how the justices would rule if this case eventually reaches them.