WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Friday, Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) signed new restrictions on ballot collection in Montana into law. The bill, House Bill 530, was passed by the state Senate last month on a party line vote. A previous bill that proposed the same restrictions had stalled in the Legislature until Republicans resurrected the provisions in the final weeks of the session.
In April, Republicans added an amendment to the previously uncontroversial H.B. 530: it bans anyone who would receive a “pecuniary benefit” (or financial advantage) from returning a voter’s ballot from helping with ballot collection. Democrats in the Montana Legislature argue that the term “pecuniary benefit” is purposefully vague, and as it is not defined in the amendment, could be enforced broadly to make it harder for large swaths of voters and organizers to return ballots. In-home caretakers or aides in nursing homes, for example, could be defined as receiving a benefit for helping seniors return their ballots under this provision.
Democrats immediately challenged the law in an amended complaint. Montana recently passed two other voter suppression bills that are being challenged in court.