Senate Bill No. 361
Introduced By _______________________________________________________________________________
A Bill for an Act entitled: "An Act implementing the National Voter Registration Act; requiring the secretary of state to assist election administrators with the implementation of the National Voter Registration Act; requiring the secretary of state to adopt rules providing procedures for agency-based registration; requiring the secretary of state to make applications for voter registration forms available; providing additional locations for availability of voter registration forms; requiring return or forwarding of notices of registration; providing for cancellation of voter registration; providing for lists of active and inactive electors; providing for reactivation of elector's names from inactive to active lists; amending sections 1-2-112, 13-1-101, 13-1-203, 13-1-204, 13-2-203, 13-2-207, 13-2-402, 13-2-403, 13-2-512, and 13-19-313, MCA; repealing section 13-2-401, MCA; and providing an immediate effective date."
STATEMENT OF INTENT
A statement of intent is required for this bill because the bill gives the secretary of state authority to adopt administrative rules. [Section 12] requires the secretary of state to adopt rules providing alternative methods to be used by election administrators to ensure the maintenance of accurate voter registration rolls for elections. In adopting the alternatives, the secretary of state shall consider the recommendations of the federal election commission.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Montana:
Section 1. Section 1-2-112, MCA, is amended to read:
"1-2-112. Statutes imposing new local government duties. (1)
Any Except as provided in this section, a law enacted by
the legislature that requires a local government unit to perform an activity or provide a service or facility that requires the
direct expenditure of additional funds must provide a specific means to finance the activity, service, or facility other than
mill levies or the all-purpose mill levy. Any law that fails to provide a specific means to finance any activity, service, or
facility is not effective until specific means of financing are provided by the legislature from state or federal funds.
(2) The legislature may fulfill the requirements of this section by providing for an increase in the existing authorized mill levies, the all-purpose mill levy, special mill levies, or the remission of money by the state to local governments. However, an increase in the existing authorized mill levies, the all-purpose mill levy, or any special mill levy must provide an amount necessary to finance the additional costs, and if financing is provided by remission of funds by the state, the remission must bear a reasonable relationship to the actual cost of performing the activity or providing the service or facility.
(3) Subsequent legislation may not be considered to supersede or modify any provision of this section, whether by implication or otherwise, except to the extent that the legislation does so expressly.
(4) This section does not apply to:
(a) any law under which the required expenditure of additional local funds is an insubstantial amount that can be readily absorbed into the budget of an existing program. A required expenditure of the equivalent of approximately 0.1 mill or less levied on taxable property of the local government unit may be considered an insubstantial amount.
(b) a law necessary to implement the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, Public Law 103-31."
Section 2. Section 13-1-101, MCA, is amended to read:
"13-1-101. Definitions. As used in this title, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise, the following definitions apply:
(1) "Active elector" means a qualified elector whose name is on the active list.
(2) "Active list" means a list of active electors maintained by an election administrator pursuant to [section 11].
(3) "Application for voter registration" means a completed voter registration card submitted to the election administrator and subject to confirmation, as provided in 13-2-207.
(1)(4) "Anything of value" means any goods that have a certain utility to the recipient that is real and that is ordinarily not
given away free but is purchased. (2)(5) "Candidate" means:
(a) an individual who has filed a declaration or petition for nomination, acceptance of nomination or appointment as a candidate for public office as required by law;
(b) for the purposes of chapters 35, 36, or 37, an individual who has solicited or received and retained contributions, made expenditures, or given consent to an individual, organization, political party, or committee to solicit or receive and retain contributions or make expenditures on the individual's behalf to secure nomination or election to any office at any time, whether or not the office for which the individual will seek nomination or election is known when the:
(i) solicitation is made;
(ii) contribution is received and retained; or
(iii) expenditure is made; and
(c) an officeholder who is the subject of a recall election.
(3)(6) (a) "Contribution" means:
(i) an advance, gift, loan, conveyance, deposit, payment, or distribution of money or anything of value to influence an election;
(ii) a transfer of funds between political committees;
(iii) the payment by a person other than a candidate or political committee of compensation for the personal services of another person that are rendered to a candidate or political committee.
(b) "Contribution" does not mean:
(i) services provided without compensation by individuals volunteering a portion or all of their time on behalf of a candidate or political committee or meals and lodging provided by individuals in their private residence for a candidate or other individual;
(ii) the cost of any bona fide news story, commentary, or editorial distributed through the facilities of any broadcasting station, newspaper, magazine, or other periodical publication of general circulation;
(iii) the cost of any communication by any membership organization or corporation to its members or stockholders or employees, as long as the organization is not a primary political committee; or
(iv) filing fees paid by the candidate.
(4)(7) "Election" means a general, regular, special, or primary election held pursuant to the requirements of state law,
regardless of the time or purpose. (5)(8) "Election administrator" means the county clerk and recorder or the individual designated by a county governing
body to be responsible for all election administration duties, except that with regard to school elections, the term means the
school district clerk. (6)(9) "Elector" means an individual qualified and registered to vote under state law. (7)(10) (a) "Expenditure" means a purchase, payment, distribution, loan, advance, promise, pledge, or gift of money or
anything of value made for the purpose of influencing the results of an election.
(b) "Expenditure" does not mean:
(i) services, food, or lodging provided in a manner that they are not contributions under subsection
(ii) payments by a candidate for a filing fee or for personal travel expenses, food, clothing, lodging, or personal necessities for the candidate and the candidate's family;
(iii) the cost of any bona fide news story, commentary, or editorial distributed through the facilities of any broadcasting station, newspaper, magazine, or other periodical publication of general circulation; or
(iv) the cost of any communication by any membership organization or corporation to its members or stockholders or employees, as long as the organization is not a primary political committee.
(11) "Federal election" means a general election in which an elector may vote for individuals for the office of president of the United States or for the United States congress.
(8)(12) "General election" or "regular election" means an election held for the election of public officers throughout the
state at times specified by law, including elections for officers of political subdivisions when the time of the election is set
on the same date for all similar political subdivisions in the state. For ballot issues required by Article III, section 6, or
Article XIV, section 8, of the Montana constitution to be submitted by the legislature to the electors at a general election,
"general election" means an election held at the time provided in 13-1-104(1). For ballot issues required by Article XIV,
section 9, of the Montana constitution to be submitted as a constitutional initiative at a regular election, regular election
means an election held at the time provided in 13-1-104(1).
(13) "Inactive elector" means a qualified elector who is placed on an inactive list.
(14) "Inactive list" means a list of inactive electors maintained by an election administrator pursuant to [section 11].
(9)(15) "Individual" means a human being. (10)(16) "Issue" or "ballot issue" means a proposal submitted to the people at an election for their approval or rejection,
including but not limited to initiatives, referenda, proposed constitutional amendments, recall questions, school levy
questions, bond issue questions, or a ballot question. For the purposes of chapters 35, 36, or 37, an issue becomes a "ballot
issue" upon certification by the proper official that the legal procedure necessary for its qualification and placement upon
the ballot has been completed, except that a statewide issue becomes an "issue" upon approval by the secretary of state of
the form of the petition or referral. (11)(17) "Person" means an individual, corporation, association, firm, partnership, cooperative, committee, club, union, or
other organization or group of individuals or a candidate as defined in subsection (2) (5) of this section. (12)(18) "Political committee" means a combination of two or more individuals or a person other than an individual who
makes a contribution or expenditure:
(a) to support or oppose a candidate or a committee organized to support or oppose a candidate or a petition for nomination; or
(b) to support or oppose a ballot issue or a committee organized to support or oppose a ballot issue; or
(c) as an earmarked contribution.
(13)(19) "Political subdivision" means a county, consolidated municipal-county government, municipality, special district,
or any other unit of government, except school districts, having authority to hold an election for officers or on a ballot
issue. (14)(20) "Primary" or "primary election" means an election held throughout the state to nominate candidates for public
office at times specified by law, including nominations of candidates for offices of political subdivisions when the time for
nominations is set on the same date for all similar subdivisions in the state. (15)(21) "Public office" means a state, county, municipal, school, or other district office that is filled by the people at an
election. (16)(22) "Registrar" means the county election administrator and any regularly appointed deputy or assistant election
administrator. (17)(23) "Special election" means an election other than a statutorily scheduled primary or general election held at any time
for any purpose provided by law. It may be held in conjunction with a statutorily scheduled election. (18)(24) "Voting machine or device" means any equipment used to record, tabulate, or in any manner process the vote of an
Section 3. Section 13-1-203, MCA, is amended to read:
"13-1-203. Chief election officer to advise, assist, and train. The secretary of state shall advise and assist election
administrators with regard to application, operation, and interpretation of Title 13, except for
chapters chapter 35, 36, or 37,
and the implementation and operation of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, Public Law 103-31. The secretary of
state shall hold at least one workshop every 2 years to provide training and assistance to election administrators. Election
administrators must be reimbursed, from funds appropriated to the secretary of state, for their mileage and expenses for
attending the workshops at the rates set for mileage and expenses in 2-18-501 through 2-18-503. At the discretion of the
secretary of state and within the budget limits allowed for workshops, the workshops may be held in several sessions at
separate locations in the state."
Section 4. Section 13-1-204, MCA, is amended to read:
"13-1-204. Election records to be kept by secretary of state. (1) The secretary of state shall maintain current and accurate records including:
(a) a list of all precincts in each county;
(b) a map showing the boundaries of all precincts in each county;
(c) a count of the number of registered voters in each precinct for the latest general election;
(d) a list of legislative districts, judicial districts, and any multicounty election districts, showing the precinct numbers of
each county contained in each district and the number of registered voters in each district for the
latest most recent general
(e) a count of votes cast at the
latest most recent general election by precinct and by legislative, judicial, and multicounty
(f) records required to be submitted from local election administrators and other agencies and coordinated by the secretary of state pursuant to the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, Public Law 103-31.
(2) Each election administrator shall provide the information and map for the record required in subsection (1) in the form and at the time prescribed by the secretary of state.
(3) The records required in subsection (1) and all records in the secretary of state's office pertaining to elections
be open for public inspection during normal office hours."
Section 5. Section 13-2-203, MCA, is amended to read:
"13-2-203. Registration by mail. (1) A qualified individual may register by mailing, postage paid, a properly completed application for voter registration form to the election administrator in the county in which the individual resides.
(2) The election administrator shall send applications for voter registration forms for mail registrations to all qualified
individuals requesting them and shall, in addition, arrange for the forms to be widely and conveniently available within the
county. The secretary of state shall make applications for voter registration forms available to governmental entities, private
entities, and organized voter registration efforts. The application for
(3) The elector shall complete, sign, and return the application for
(4) The application for voter registration form must be received by the election administrator on or before the day of the close of registration and must be returned to the administrator no later than 15 days after the date it is signed.
Registration Application for voter registration forms properly executed before the close of registration must be
accepted for 3 days after the close of registration."
Section 6. Section 13-2-207, MCA, is amended to read:
Notice Confirmation of registration. (1) The election administrator shall give or mail to each elector a
notice, affirming confirming registration and giving the location of the elector's polling place. Mailed notices must conform
to postal regulations to ensure return, not forwarding, of undelivered notices. A notice sent to an elector to whom the notice
is not personally given must be sent by nonforwardable, first-class mail, which must conform to postal regulations to ensure
address corrections are received. If the notice is returned undeliverable the application for voter registration may not be
placed on the register of electors kept by the election administrator.
(2) The election administrator
must shall investigate the reason for the return of any mailed notices and correct the address
on the registration form and mail a new confirmation notice or cancel the registration of the elector if a diligent effort fails
to locate the elector named on the registration form to the elector. The notice must conform to postal regulations to ensure
return, not forwarding, of undelivered notices."
Section 7. Section 13-2-402, MCA, is amended to read:
Other reasons Reasons for cancellation. The election administrator shall cancel the registration of an
(1) at the written request of the registered elector;
(2) if a certificate of the death of the elector is filed or if the elector is reported as deceased by the department of public health and human services in the department's reports submitted to the county under 72-16-217;
(3) if the elector is of unsound mind as established by a court;
(4) if the incarceration of the elector in a penal institution for a felony conviction is legally established;
(5) if a certified copy of a court order directing the cancellation is filed with the election administrator;
(6) if the elector is successfully challenged and not allowed to vote at an election upon determination of an election judge;
(7) if a notice is received from another county or state that the elector has registered in that county or state; or
(8) if the elector fails to respond to certain confirmation mailings and fails to vote in two subsequent federal elections."
Section 8. Section 13-2-403, MCA, is amended to read:
"13-2-403. Challenge of registration. (1) Forty-five or more days before the close of registration for an election, three
registered electors of a precinct may challenge the registration of an elector by filing affidavits giving the name of the
elector whose registration is challenged, the address at which
he the elector is registered, and a statement that the affiant has
personal knowledge that the elector does not reside at the address where registered.
(2) No later than 3 days after the filing of affidavits as provided in subsection (1), the election administrator
send written notice to the elector whose registration is challenged, at the address shown on the registration form. The notice
must state that registration will be canceled moved to the inactive list within 15 days of the filing of the affidavits unless
the elector refutes the affidavits by submitting proof or a sworn statement that he the elector resides at the address given on
his the registration form.
(3) The election administrator must
cancel move to the inactive list the registration of an elector whose registration is
challenged under this section 15 days after the filing of the affidavits required in subsection (1) unless proof or a sworn
statement as required in subsection (2) is received.
(4) If an elector proves or swears
he that the elector resides at the address given on his the registration form after his the
registration has been canceled moved to the inactive list as provided in this section, he may reregister by completing a new
registration form the elector's registration must be moved to the active list. Such The registration shall be is effective for the
next election even though the registration for that election is closed."
Section 9. Section 13-2-512, MCA, is amended to read:
"13-2-512. Right to vote when precinct or name changed -- inactive elector -- change of status. (1) An elector who
his residence to a different precinct within the same county and has failed to notify the election administrator
of the change by a transfer or new registration form may vote in the precinct where he the elector is registered at the first
election at which he the elector offers to vote after the change or at a central location designated by the election
administrator unless his the elector's registration has been canceled as provided in 13-2-207, 13-2-401, or 13-2-402.
(2) An elector who still
residing resides in the same precinct where registered, whose name has changed, and who has
failed to notify the election administrator of the change by a new registration form may vote under his the elector's former
name at the first election at which he the elector offers to vote after the change unless his the elector's registration has been
canceled as provided in 13-2-207, 13-2-401, or 13-2-402.
(3) The elector
must shall state his the elector's correct residence address and name when offering to vote and must shall
complete a transfer form or new registration form to make the necessary correction before being allowed to sign the
precinct register and vote.
(4) If an inactive elector appears to vote or votes by absentee ballot in a federal election, that elector must be allowed to vote and must be removed from the inactive list and placed on the active list."
Section 10. Section 13-19-313, MCA, is amended to read:
"13-19-313. Notice to elector -- opportunity to resolve questions. (1) As soon as possible after receipt of an elector's return/verification envelope, the election administrator shall give notice to the elector, either by telephone or by first-class mail, if the election administrator:
(a) is unable to verify the elector's signature under 13-19-310; or
(b) has discovered a procedural mistake made by the elector that would invalidate
his the elector's ballot under 13-19-311.
(2) The election administrator shall inform the elector that
he the elector may appear in person at the election
administrator's office prior to 8 p.m. on election day and verify the signature or correct the mistake.
(3) Any elector
so appearing pursuant to subsection (2) must be permitted to:
his the elector's signature, after proof of identification, by affirming that the signature is in fact his the elector's or
by completing a new registration card containing his the elector's current signature;
(b) correct any minor mistake if the correction would render the ballot valid; or
(c) if necessary, request and receive a replacement ballot and vote it at that time.
(4) If a mail ballot is returned, the election administrator shall mail a confirmation notice provided for in 13-2-207. However, the notice must be sent by forwardable, first-class mail with a postage-paid, return-addressed notice. If the confirmation notice is returned to the election administrator, the elector must be placed on an inactive list until that elector becomes a qualified elector."
NEW SECTION. Section 11. Active list and inactive list of electors to be maintained for federal election. The election administrator of a county shall maintain a list of active electors and a list of inactive electors for the purposes of a federal election.
NEW SECTION. Section 12. Maintenance of voter registration rolls for elections -- rules by secretary of state. (1) The secretary of state shall adopt rules specifying a list of procedures from which an election administrator shall choose at least one procedure for the maintenance of accurate voter registration rolls for use in elections.
(2) The procedures specified by the secretary of state must include the following procedures, which an election administrator shall follow in every odd-numbered year:
(a) compare the entire list of registered electors against the national change of address files and provide appropriate confirmation notice to those individuals whose addresses have apparently changed;
(b) mail a nonforwardable, first-class, "return if undeliverable--address correction requested" notice to all registered electors of each jurisdiction to confirm their addresses and provide the appropriate confirmation notice to those individuals who return the notices;
(c) mail a targeted mailing to electors who have failed to vote by:
(i) sending the list of nonvoters a nonforwardable notice, followed by the appropriate forwardable confirmation notice to those electors who appear to have moved from their addresses of record;
(ii) comparing the list of nonvoters against the national change of address files, followed by the appropriate confirmation notices to those electors who appear to have moved from their addresses of record;
(iii) sending forwardable confirmation notices; or
(iv) making a door-to-door canvass.
(3) Any notices returned to the election administrator after using the procedures provided in subsection (2) must be followed by an appropriate confirmation notice that is a forwardable, first-class, postage-paid, self-addressed, return notice. If the elector fails to respond within 30 days of the confirmation notice, the election administrator shall move the elector to the inactive list.
(4) A procedure used by an election administrator pursuant to this section must be completed at least 90 days before a primary or general election for federal office.
NEW SECTION. Section 13. Agency-based registration. (1) Qualified individuals must be given the opportunity to register to vote when applying for or receiving services or assistance:
(a) at an agency that provides public assistance;
(b) at or through an agency that provides state-funded programs primarily engaged in providing services to persons with disabilities; or
(c) at another agency designated by the secretary of state with the consent of the agency.
(2) Agency-based registration sites must:
(a) distribute application for voter registration forms with each application for services or assistance; and
(b) assist an applicant in completing an application for voter registration form, unless the applicant refuses assistance.
(3) The completed application for voter registration form must be transmitted by the agency to the election administrator of the county of the elector's residence within the time period specified by 42 U.S.C. 1973gg, et seq.
(4) As used in this section, the following definitions apply:
(a) "Agency" means a state agency as defined in 2-4-102(1)(a) or an office of a political subdivision.
(b) "Political subdivision" means a city, county, consolidated city-county government, or a town.
NEW SECTION. Section 14. Reactivation of elector. (1) The name of an elector must be moved by an election administrator from the inactive list to the active list of a county if an elector meets the requirements for registration provided in this chapter and:
(a) appears in order to vote in a federal election; or
(b) notifies the county election administrator of the elector's current residence, which must be in that county.
(2) After an elector has complied with either subsection (1)(a) or (1)(b), the county election administrator shall place the elector's name on the active voting list for that county.
NEW SECTION. Section 15. Electors not voting in 1996 general election -- placement on inactive voting list. Election administrators shall place the name of electors who did not vote in the 1996 general election on the inactive voting list provided for in [section 11].
NEW SECTION. Section 16. Repealer. Section 13-2-401, MCA, is repealed.
NEW SECTION. Section 17. Codification instruction. [Sections 11 through 14] are intended to be codified as an integral part of Title 13, chapter 2, part 2, and the provisions of Title 13, chapter 2, part 2, apply to [sections 11 through 14].
NEW SECTION. Section 18. Effective date. [This act] is effective on passage and approval.