Senate Bill No. 366
Introduced By _______________________________________________________________________________
A Bill for an Act entitled: "An Act establishing the Montana Voter Contact and Electoral Reform Act of 1997 for congressional candidates; prescribing filing procedures and requirements; providing that if a candidate agrees to voluntarily limit campaign expenditures, certain requirements must be waived; establishing expenditure limitations and penalties; and amending sections 13-10-201, 13-10-202, 13-10-325, 13-25-201, 13-25-204, 13-35-107, 13-37-126, and 13-37-127, MCA."
STATEMENT OF INTENT
A statement of intent is required for this bill because it directs the commissioner of political practices to adopt a rule adjusting campaign expenditure limits for inflation. The commissioner shall conform the rule to the process provided in 13-37-218.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Montana:
NEW SECTION. Section 1. Short title. [Sections 1 through 12] may be cited as the "Montana Voter Contact and Electoral Reform Act of 1997".
NEW SECTION. Section 2. Purpose and findings. In enacting [sections 1 through 12], the legislature finds and declares the following:
(1) The citizens of Montana pride themselves on a long tradition of face-to-face politics, which has allowed voters to know their congressional candidates and office holders on a first-name basis.
(2) Campaign spending for elections to the United States senate and the United States house of representatives has increased so dramatically that only well-financed candidates can compete. The national average cost of a successful congressional campaign has increased more than six-fold since 1976, 300% in constant dollars:
House $ 87,280 $ 543,599
Senate 610,026 3,930,638
(3) (a) Campaign spending increases in Montana were even more dramatic than the national average.
(i) The average cost of a successful United States house campaign in Montana was $153,682 in 1976. In 1992, the successful candidate spent $1,336,673, an increase of almost 900%. Adjusted for inflation, the successful candidate for the United States house spent almost four times more in 1992 than in 1976.
(ii) For a United States senate campaign in Montana, the successful candidate spent $311,011 in 1976. By 1990, the successful candidate spent $2,568,899. In 1994, the campaign spending by the successful candidate for the United States senate exceeded $3.6 million and, in 1996, the successful candidate spent over $4 million, more than 13 times the amount spent in 1976. In constant dollars, campaign spending in Montana increased five-fold in 20 years.
(iii) Adjusted for inflation, the average cost per Montana vote cast for the successful candidate for U.S. senate shot up from less than $4 per vote in 1976 to almost $20 per vote in 1996.
(iv) The corresponding average cost per Montana vote cast for the successful U.S. house candidates jumped from $1.76 per vote in 1976 to more than $6.50 per vote in 1992.
(b) Campaign spending profoundly influences the outcome of congressional elections in Montana. Experience demonstrates that the candidate who raises the most money is overwhelmingly favored to win. Incumbents hold a clear advantage over challengers in fund raising and, as a consequence, in election outcomes.
(i) Most recently, in all Montana congressional campaigns between 1990 and 1996, the candidate who spent the most money won the election.
(ii) Also between 1990 and 1996, Montana congressional incumbents had, on average, greater than a 4-to-1 financial advantage over their challengers.
(iii) Ever-increasing campaign spending establishes a price tag on congressional offices. Only candidates who can raise the funds needed to compete at high campaign spending levels will run for office. Qualified individuals who are unwilling or unable to meet the price tag simply choose not to run. As a consequence, voters' choices are restricted to a narrower range of candidates and the vitality of our electoral processes is diminished.
(4) The upward spiral of campaign spending requires congressional candidates to spend more and more campaign time raising money. Mass media marketing and advertising techniques overshadow direct voter contact, hampering the free exchange of ideas between voters and candidates.
(5) Voters lose confidence in their elected officials and in the integrity of their electoral processes when campaign spending reaches a level at which it appears that campaign contributors influence candidates more than the needs of constituents and that money influences election outcomes more than votes.
(6) (a) The state, acting on behalf of its citizens, has a compelling interest in encouraging potential candidates to run for congress and in assuring that those campaigns are competitive so that the people of Montana receive a broader range and more effective representation.
(b) Reasonable campaign budgets free candidates to spend substantially more time with voters than in fundraising. Direct voter contact enables congressional candidates to acquire first-hand knowledge of the views of the people and requires candidates to test their own views and ideas against different ideas and viewpoints.
(c) This interaction is fundamental to our republican form of government and produces candidates who better understand the needs and desires of the people they may represent.
(7) The purposes of [sections 1 through 12] are to:
(a) ensure that congressional candidates and officeholders preserve Montana's tradition of face-to-face politics by:
(i) emphasizing direct voter contact through the petition process or through grassroots, local campaigns; and
(ii) enhancing the responsiveness of elected officials to their voting constituencies by promoting the free exchange of ideas between voters and candidates and reducing the emphasis on fundraising and mass media campaigns;
(b) promote the integrity and apparent integrity of Montana's representatives to congress by:
(i) protecting house members and senators from fundraising pressures so burdensome that the pressures could influence or appear to influence their official behavior; and
(ii) enhancing the responsiveness of house members and senators to their voting constituencies by relieving the pressure to spend inordinate amounts of time raising campaign contributions, thereby freeing additional hours to attend to constituent needs;
(c) promote the integrity and apparent integrity of elections by:
(i) increasing the likelihood that the outcome of an election is determined by the candidate's merit rather than the candidate's fundraising ability;
(ii) limiting the ability of wealthy candidates to use a personal fortune or a family fortune to outspend opponents disproportionately; and
(iii) encouraging qualified candidates to run for congress by decreasing the likelihood that they will be out-spent by formidable sums of money or be required to spend inordinate amounts of time fundraising;
(d) reduce corruption and the appearance of corruption in the political process by:
(i) making it less likely that officeholders would favor the opinions or interests of potential contributors over the opinions or interests of citizens who do not or cannot make substantial campaign contributions, thereby preserving the first amendment rights of all citizens to petition their government; and
(ii) diminishing the ability of a small portion of the voting public to skew election results through the contribution of money;
(e) further the equal protection rights of all Montana citizens, as candidates and as voters, to participate in the electoral process by:
(i) encouraging candidates to limit the skyrocketing costs of campaigns, thereby opening the electoral process to candidates less able to meet such costs; and
(ii) promoting spending limits that, rather than limiting the dissemination of new ideas, encourage a greater variety of and depth to issues presented, providing all voters with a meaningful opportunity to support and vote for the candidate of their choice;
(f) protect the first amendment rights of all Montana citizens to be heard in the electoral process and to hear information from all candidates, regardless of their access to wealth; and
(g) preserve the republican form of government guaranteed in Article I and the seventeenth amendment to the United States Constitution by replacing the time and energy that Montana's congressional candidates and officeholders must devote to fundraising with time and energy devoted to direct voter contact and constituent service.
NEW SECTION. Section 3. Declaration for nomination for congressional candidates. (1) Each candidate seeking a nomination for congress in the primary election shall:
(a) 7 days before the filing deadline provided in subsection (5), file the voter contact petitions required pursuant to [section 6]; and
(b) sign and send a declaration for nomination to the secretary of state as provided in this section with the filing fee provided in [section 4] and the administrative assessment provided in [section 5].
(2) The declaration for nomination must be acknowledged by an officer empowered to acknowledge signatures if the declaration is sent by mail or by the officer of the office at which the filing is made.
(3) The declaration, when filed, is conclusive evidence that the elector is a candidate for nomination by the elector's political party.
(4) (a) The declaration for nomination must be in the form and contain the information prescribed by the secretary of state.
(b) The secretary of state and election administrator shall furnish a declaration for nomination form to any individual who requests the form.
(5) Declarations for nomination must be filed no sooner than 135 days before the election in which the office first appears on the ballot and no later than 5 p.m., 75 days before the date of the primary election.
NEW SECTION. Section 4. Filing fee -- indigent candidates. Congressional candidates shall pay a filing fee of 1% of the total annual salary for the office being sought or, if indigent, comply with the provisions of 13-10-203.
NEW SECTION. Section 5. Administrative assessment -- alternative for indigence -- waiver. (1) Except as otherwise provided in this section, persons seeking a congressional office shall pay to the secretary of state an administrative assessment of 5% of the total annual salary for the office sought.
(2) The assessment must be paid when filing the voter contact petitions required pursuant to [section 6], except that a person filing an acceptance of nomination pursuant to 13-10-204 shall pay the assessment when filing the acceptance.
(3) A person unable to pay the assessment because of indigence shall, in lieu of the assessment, submit to the secretary of state a verified statement that the candidate is unable to pay the assessment because of indigence.
(4) The requirements of this section must be waived if the candidate files, pursuant to [section 9], an affidavit to limit political expenditures.
NEW SECTION. Section 6. Voter contact petitions -- waiver. (1) In addition to any other applicable requirement or qualification provided by law, a congressional candidate desiring to have the candidate's name printed on the primary or general election ballot, whichever is applicable, shall file voter contact petitions as provided for in this section.
(2) Voter contact petitions must include the signatures of at least 5% of the qualified electors in each of at least 40% of the legislative representative districts within the congressional district boundaries and total at least 5% of all qualified electors of the congressional district.
(3) Voter contact petitions may be filed beginning on January 1 of the election year but must be filed as follows:
(a) for candidates filing a declaration for nomination, no later than 7 days before the filing deadline provided in [section 3(5)];
(b) for a person filing an acceptance of nomination as a write-in candidate, no later than 7 days before the filing deadline pursuant to 13-10-204; or
(c) for a person filing a petition for nomination, no later than at the time of filing the petition for nomination pursuant to 13-10-503.
(4) Petitions filed pursuant to any other provision of this title may not be counted toward the number of petitions required under this section.
(5) Each voter contact petition must be a separate paper containing one signer's name and specifying one candidate and must be submitted in the form prescribed in [section 7].
(6) (a) An elector may not sign a voter contact petition for candidates from more than one party, nor may the elector sign more than one voter contact petition for the same office.
(b) If an elector has signed two or more conflicting voter contact petitions, all petitions signed by that elector must be rejected.
(c) An elector who purposely signs a name other than the elector's own, who signs more than one voter contact petition for the same office, or who is not legally registered to vote in Montana, is subject to the penalty provided in 45-7-202 for false swearing.
(7) The secretary of state may review the petitions for compliance with [sections 1 through 12]. However, the secretary of state is under no legal obligation to conduct the review.
(8) Once received by the office of the secretary of state, the petitions are public documents and may be reviewed in the secretary of state's office or reproduced subject to 2-6-103.
(9) The requirements of this section must be waived if the candidate files, pursuant to [section 9], an affidavit to voluntarily limit political expenditures. If the candidate decides to file an affidavit after having initiated the petition process pursuant to this section, all money spent by the candidate in attempting to meet the requirements of this section must be considered part of the candidate's aggregate political expenditure.
NEW SECTION. Section 7. Form of voter contact petition. (1) Each voter contact petition filed pursuant to [section 6] for primary elections must be made in substantially the following form:
State of Montana
County of _______________,ss.
CANDIDATE HAS RESERVED THE CANDIDATE'S RIGHTS UNDER MONTANA LAWS AND MAY CHOOSE NOT TO AGREE TO LIMIT CAMPAIGN SPENDING ACCORDING TO AMOUNTS SET BY STATE LAW AND AS A RESULT MAY BE REQUIRED TO SUBMIT THESE PETITIONS.
I do hereby petition for the printing on the primary ballot of the name of _____________________ for the office of ____________ (U.S. Senator/U.S. Representative), as a __________ party candidate, to be voted for on Tuesday, the ___ day of June, 19__. I certify that I am qualified to vote for a candidate for the above office, that I am a registered voter, and am not at this time a signer of any other similar petition for any other candidate for the above office; that I reside within the boundaries of legislative district number ___, in the city (town) of ________ ______ in the county of ___________ and my street or mailing address is _______________________________________________. I certify that to the best of my knowledge the above candidate is eligible to file as a candidate for this office. I further certify that I believe the above-named person is especially qualified to fill this office.
In signing this petition, I understand that a person who purposefully signs a name other than the person's own to this petition or who signs more than one petition for candidates for the same office at one election or signs when not a legally registered Montana voter is subject to a $500 fine, 6 months in jail, or both, which is the penalty provided in section 45-7-202, MCA, for false swearing.
Print Voter's Name
State of Montana
County of ___________, ss.
The above named, personally known to me, appeared and made oath (or affirmed) that the above petition, by the above named person subscribed, is true. Subscribed and sworn to before me this .... day of ....., 19...
Seal (Person authorized to take oaths)
(Title or notarial information)
(2) For nomination by petition or write-in candidates, each voter contact petition filed pursuant to [section 6] must be made in the form provided under subsection (1) except that the reference to "primary" must be changed to "general" and the reference to "June" must be changed to "November".
NEW SECTION. Section 8. Challenge to signatures by elector. An elector having reason to believe that a voter contact petition submitted pursuant to [section 6], does not comply with [sections 1 through 12] or that a signature is not genuine may file with the secretary of state within 7 days of the secretary of state's receipt of the voter contact petition a sworn statement or affirmation of the elector's belief. Within 5 days of receipt of a challenge, the secretary of state must determine a petition's validity. If the secretary of state determines that the petition does not comply with [sections 1 through 12] or that a signature is not genuine, the petition must be rejected.
NEW SECTION. Section 9. Affidavit to voluntarily limit political expenditures -- waiver of fee, assessment, and voter contact petition requirements. (1) A candidate for congress may voluntarily agree to limit political expenditures by filing an affidavit with the secretary of state as provided in this section.
(2) The affidavit must state:
(a) that the candidate knows the voluntary expenditure limitations set forth in [section 10];
(b) that the candidate is voluntarily agreeing to limit the candidate's own expenditures and expenditures made on the candidate's behalf by the candidate's committee or committees, national, state, and local political parties, and immediate family to the amount and as prescribed in [section 10];
(c) that the candidate does not condone and may not solicit any independent expenditures on behalf of the candidate's candidacy; and
(d) that the candidate voluntarily agrees to abide by the penalties for exceeding the aggregate expenditure limitations prescribed by [section 10] and agrees to not seek appointment or election for the same office in the same election cycle if the candidate is disqualified for exceeding the limitations.
(3) The affidavit must be sworn or affirmed and subscribed to by the candidate and notarized.
(4) If a candidate who had not filed an affidavit under this section receives notice from the secretary of state that the candidate will be disqualified for failure to meet a requirement that would have been waived had the candidate filed an affidavit and if the candidate has not exceeded the limits established in [section 10], then the candidate qualifies for a waiver by filing an affidavit under this section no later than 2 days after the secretary of state's notice.
NEW SECTION. Section 10. Voluntary political expenditure limitation amounts -- definitions. (1) Aggregate expenditures by a candidate who submitted an affidavit under [section 9] voluntarily agreeing to limit political expenditures must be as follows:
(a) for United States senator:
(i) $636,500 in the primary election; and
(ii) $950,000 in the general election.
(b) for United States representative:
(i) $217,800 in the primary election; and
(ii) $330,000 in the general election.
(2) For the purposes of [sections 1 through 12]:
(a) "aggregate expenditure" means the sum of all the expenditures made to influence either the primary or general election and that are made by a candidate or on the candidate's behalf by the candidate's committee or committees, national, state and local political party, and immediate family; and
(b) "immediate family" means family members of the candidate or the candidate's spouse who are directly related within two generations of the candidate or the candidate's spouse.
(3) Each political expenditure limitation amount specified in subsection (1) applies solely and independently to either the primary or the general election.
(4) The commissioner shall multiply the limits in subsection (1) by the inflation factor, as defined in 15-30-101, for the year in which general elections are held. The resulting figure must be rounded off to the nearest $50 increment. The commissioner shall publish the revised limitations as a rule.
NEW SECTION. Section 11. Penalties for exceeding expenditure limitations -- vacancies. (1) If a candidate who has filed an affidavit under [section 9] exceeds the expenditure limits provided in [section 10]:
(a) by less than 2%, the commissioner shall impose a civil penalty of three times the amount of the excess expenditure.
(b) by 2% percent or more:
(i) 75 days or more before the primary election or 85 days or more before the general election, pursuant to 13-37-126, the candidate's name may not be printed on the ballot; or
(ii) less than 85 days before a general election, the certificate of election provided in 13-25-204 may not be issued to that candidate.
(2) Vacancies resulting from implementation of this section must be filled as provided by law.
NEW SECTION. Section 12. Examination of expenditure reports -- determination of violation -- notice.
(1) The commissioner shall examine expenditure reports required pursuant to 13-37-225 to determine compliance with the limits prescribed in [section 11].
(2) If the commissioner determines that a candidate has exceeded the applicable expenditure limit, the commissioner shall send to the candidate a notice of the determination and of the penalty applicable under [section 11].
Section 13. Section 13-10-201, MCA, is amended to read:
"13-10-201. Declaration for nomination. (1) Each noncongressional candidate in the primary election, except nonpartisan candidates filing under the provisions of chapter 14 of this title, shall send a declaration for nomination to the secretary of state or election administrator. Each candidate for governor shall send a joint declaration for nomination with a candidate for lieutenant governor. Each congressional candidate in a primary election must file a declaration for nomination as provided in [section 3].
(2) A declaration for nomination must be filed in the office of:
(a) the secretary of state for
a congressional office, state or district office to be voted for in more than one county, member
of the legislature, or judge of the district court;
(b) the election administrator for a county, municipal, precinct, or district office (other than a member of the legislature or judge of the district court) to be voted for in only one county.
(3) Each candidate shall sign the declaration and send with it the required filing fee or, in the case of an indigent candidate, send with it the documents required by 13-10-203. The declaration for nomination must be acknowledged by an officer empowered to acknowledge signatures if sent by mail or by the officer of the office at which the filing is made.
(4) The declaration, when filed, is conclusive evidence that the elector is a candidate for nomination by the elector's party.
(5) (a) The declaration for nomination must be in the form and contain the information prescribed by the secretary of state.
(b) A person seeking nomination to the legislature shall provide the secretary of state with a street address, legal description, or road designation to indicate the person's place of residence. If a candidate for the legislature changes residence, the candidate shall, within 15 days after the change, notify the secretary of state on a form prescribed by the secretary of state.
(c) The secretary of state and election administrator shall furnish declaration for nomination forms to individuals requesting them.
(6) Declarations for nomination must be filed no sooner than 135 days before the election in which the office first appears on the ballot and no later than 5 p.m., 75 days before the date of the primary election."
Section 14. Section 13-10-202, MCA, is amended to read:
"13-10-202. Filing fees.
Filing Except as provided in [section 4] for congressional candidates, filing fees are as follows:
(1) for offices having an annual salary of $2,500 or less and candidates for the legislature, $15;
(2) for county offices having an annual salary of more than $2,500, 0.5% of the total annual salary;
(3) for other offices having an annual salary of more than $2,500, 1% of the total annual salary;
(4) for offices in which compensation is paid in fees, $10;
(5) for officers of political parties, presidential electors, and officers who receive no salary or fees, no filing fee is required."
Section 15. Section 13-10-325, MCA, is amended to read:
"13-10-325. Withdrawal from nomination. (1) A candidate for nomination or candidate for election to an office may
withdraw from the election by sending a statement of withdrawal to the officer with whom
his the candidate's declaration,
petition, or acceptance of nomination was filed. The statement must contain all information necessary to identify the
candidate and the office sought and the reason for withdrawal. It shall must be sworn or affirmed before an officer
empowered to administer oaths. A candidate may not withdraw later than 85 days before a general election or 75 days
before a primary election.
(2) Filing fees paid by the candidate and administrative assessments paid pursuant to [section 5] may not be refunded."
Section 16. Section 13-25-201, MCA, is amended to read:
"13-25-201. Election of United States senators and representatives. (1) United States senators and representatives
must be elected at the general election preceding commencement of the term to be filled.
(2) Nominations and elections
shall must be as provided under [sections 1 through 12], or, when not addressed by [sections
1 through 12], as provided by law for the election of the governor."
Section 17. Section 13-25-204, MCA, is amended to read:
"13-25-204. Certificates issued by governor. Upon receipt of the report of the canvass required by 13-15-507, the governor shall send a certificate of election to each person elected, except as provided in [section 11] and 13-37-127."
Section 18. Section 13-35-107, MCA, is amended to read:
"13-35-107. Voiding election. (1) If a court finds that the violation of any provision of this title by any person probably
affected the outcome of any election, the result of that election may be held void and a special election held
within in not
less than 75 days or more than 90 days from the date of that finding. If the violation occurred during a primary election, the
court may direct the selection of a new candidate according to the provisions of state law relating to the filling of vacancies
on the general election ballot. Except as provided in subsection (2), an action to void an election shall must be commenced
within 1 year of the date of the election in question.
(2) An action to void a bond election
shall must be commenced within 60 days of the date of the election in question."
Section 19. Section 13-37-126, MCA, is amended to read:
"13-37-126. Names not to be printed on ballot. (1) The name of a candidate may not be printed on the official ballot for an election if the candidate or a political treasurer for a candidate fails to file any statement or report as required by this chapter. The name of a congressional candidate may not be printed on the official ballot for an election if the candidate is subject to the penalty specified in [section 11(1)(b)(i)].
(2) A vacancy on an official ballot under this section may be filled in the manner provided by law, but not by the name of the same candidate.
(3) In carrying out the mandate of this section, the commissioner must, by a written statement, notify the secretary of state or the election administrator that a candidate or a candidate's treasurer has not complied with the provisions of this chapter, as described in subsection (1), and that a candidate's name should not be printed on the official ballot."
Section 20. Section 13-37-127, MCA, is amended to read:
"13-37-127. Withholding of certificates of nomination or election. (1) A certificate of election
shall may not be granted
to any candidate until he or his the candidate or the candidate's political treasurer has filed the reports and statements that
must be filed pursuant to the provisions of this chapter. No A candidate for an elective office may not assume the powers
and duties of that office until he the candidate has received a certificate of election as provided by law. A certificate of
election shall may only be issued by the public official responsible for issuing a certificate or commission of election.
(2) A certificate of election may not be granted to a congressional candidate who is subject to the penalty under [section 11(1)(b)(ii)].
(3) A vacancy resulting from the withholding of a certificate under this section may be filled in the manner provided by law but not by the name of the same candidate.
(4) In carrying out the mandate of this section, the commissioner must, by written statement, notify the public official responsible for issuing a certificate of nomination or election that a candidate or his treasurer has complied with the provisions of this chapter as described in subsection (1) and that a certificate of nomination or election may be issued."
NEW SECTION. Section 21. Severability. If a part of [this act] is invalid, all valid parts that are severable from the invalid part remain in effect. If a part of [this act] is invalid in one or more of its applications, the part remains in effect in all valid applications that are severable from the invalid applications.
NEW SECTION. Section 22. Codification instruction. [Sections 1 through 12] are intended to be codified as an integral part of Title 13, chapter 25, and the provisions of Title 13, chapter 25, apply to [sections 1 through 12].