March 18, 2010
CONTACT INFORMATION: Terri McCoy, 444-2807
McCulloch Emphasizes Voters' Rights and Responsibilities for Ballot Initiatives Discusses Recent Allegations of Possible Signature Gathering Violations
HELENA - Montana's Chief Elections Officer Linda McCulloch announced today that she has recently been notified of allegations of possible statutory violations by signature gatherers circulating petitions in Montana, and used the opportunity to remind Montana voters of their rights and responsibilities when considering ballot initiative petitions.
"Signature gathering is an important part of the elections process," McCulloch said. "It gives voters the opportunity to decide what measures are important to them, and what will appear on the general election ballot."
McCulloch sent a letter today to each of the 13 ballot issue sponsors that are currently on file with the Secretary of State's office, reminding them that any violation to the statutory requirements regarding who may petition and gather signatures for a proposed ballot measure carries a misdemeanor penalty and should promptly be reported to both the Commissioner of Political Practices and the Attorney General.
"I want every signature to count," McCulloch continued. "That means working to ensure that signatures aren't tossed in the trash due to illegal signature gathering activities."
At a press conference today, McCulloch urged Montana voters to consider the following steps to help ensure all measures reach the ballot through legal and legitimate means:
- Read the entire petition before you sign it.
- If you have questions, ask questions.
- Promptly report any suspicious signature gathering activity.
- If you're unsure, think it over.
- The deadline for sponsors to submit petitions is June 18.
- Voters can sign or withdraw their signature until petitions are submitted.
McCulloch reminded the public that the law states they must be a registered voter in the State of Montana for their signature to count. Signature gatherers must be a Montana resident, and may not be paid anything of value based upon the number of signatures gathered. (MCA 13-27-102) The law also requires signature gatherers to sign an affidavit stating that they personally gathered each signature, and that the signers knew the contents of the petition before signing the petition. (MCA 13-27-302)
Read the letter McCulloch sent to sponsors.