From today’s Great Falls Tribune:
Montana Republicans made significant gains in the 2020 election, sweeping statewide races while also adding to their majorities in both the state Senate and House.
The GOP-controlled Legislature in the 2021 session reaped the benefits of the election of Gov. Greg Gianforte, the first Republican governor in the state since Judy Martz left office in 2005. Gianforte signed a number of bills long sought-after by Republicans – such as three restricting abortion access in the state – who saw previous versions vetoed under Democrat Govs. Brian Schweitzer and Steve Bullock.
Four bills pertaining to voting rights and access have seen legal challenges following their passage in the 2021 session. A Yellowstone County District judge recently struck down House Bill 506, which sought to deny absentee ballots to voters who would turn 18 before election day but after the date when ballots are sent out.
Judge Michael G. Moses ruled in July that HB 506 violated the Montana Constitution, saying that forcing this demographic to vote in-person “arbitrarily subjects a subgroup of the electorate to different requirements,” according to the Associated Press.
The challenge of three other election-related laws passed and signed into law last year are still in litigation:
- Senate Bill 169: Eliminated college IDs as an acceptable form of identification when registering to vote.
- House Bill 176: Eliminated the right for voters to register on Election Day, moving the deadline up to noon the day before an election.
- House Bill 530: Prohibits ballot-collectors from receiving compensation for the service, aside from election officials or authorized mail services.
Plaintiffs in the case include Native American advocacy group Western Native Voice, as well as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), while the state of Montana and Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen make up the defense.
Read the complete story here.