Nancy Maxson and Nancy Leifer, Co-Presidents League of Women Voters Missoula
One tool Montanans have to help them understand their ballots is the Voter Information Pamphlet. The Secretary of State publishes the pamphlet and local Elections Offices mail it to all registered voters. On October 5, one Montana Voter Information Pamphlet will be mailed to every Montana household where there is an active registered voter.
The “pamphlet” resembles a newspaper insert. If you don’t receive the Voter Information Pamphlet in your mail soon after October 5, check your voter registration status on the My Voter Page at https://app.mt.gov/voterinfo/. If there is a problem with your voter registration, contact your County Elections Office for assistance and ask them to send you the pamphlet.
The Voter Information Pamphlet is a guide to the ballot issues that will be on the 2020 general election ballot, published by state government but written by Montana citizens. The booklet is a debate on paper. Over the course of the summer before the election, committees are set up that represent the proponents (those in favor) and opponents (those against) of each ballot initiative. Each committee writes an essay arguing their point of view on the issue. These arguments are filed with the Secretary of State, along with supporting documents of factual statements made in the essays. The Secretary of State shares these arguments with the committees, and the committees can then write rebuttal arguments.
Each of the following ballot initiatives will have essays and rebuttals from the proponents and opponents in the Voter Information Pamphlet.
C-46 (HB 244): The Legislature referred House Bill (HB) 244 to the 2020 General Election Ballot asking adoption of a Constitutional Amendment to change constitutional amendment initiative signature requirements, changing the requirement from one half of the counties to two/fifths of the representative legislative districts.
C-47 (HB 245): The Legislature referred HB 245 to the 2020 General Election Ballot asking adoption of a Constitutional Amendment to revise initiative signature requirements from one half of the counties to one third of the representative legislative districts.
BALLOT ISSUE #11 – CI-118: A Constitutional Initiative (CI) to amend the Montana Constitution, to allow the legislature, or the people by initiative, to establish a legal age for purchasing, consuming, or possessing marijuana.
LR-130 (HB 357): The Legislature referred HB 357 to the 2020 General Election Ballot as a Legislative Referendum (LR) that would prevent local governments from regulating concealed weapons.
BALLOT ISSUE #14 – I-190: Initiative -190 legalizes the possession and use of limited amounts of marijuana for adults over the age of 21. I-190 requires the Department of Revenue to license and regulate the cultivation, transportation, and sale of marijuana and marijuana-infused products and to inspect premises where marijuana is cultivated and sold. It requires licensed laboratories to test marijuana and marijuana-infused products for potency and contaminants. I-190 establishes a 20 percent tax on non-medical marijuana. 10.5 percent of the tax revenue goes to the state general fund, with the rest dedicated to accounts for conservation programs, substance abuse treatment, veterans’ services, healthcare costs, and localities where marijuana is sold. I-190 allows a person currently serving a sentence for an act permitted by I-190 to apply for resentencing or an expungement of the conviction. I-190 prohibits advertising of marijuana and related products.
As of this writing, all of the counties on the reservation will be mailing out ballots to all active voters on October 9. One of the benefits of mail ballots is that you can take time to study the Voter Information Pamphlet while you are at home and have your ballot in front of you. If you are not sure who is the best candidate or how you want to vote on a ballot issue, you have time to do more research to help you decide. If you are still not sure, the League of Women Voters recommends you skip that part of your ballot. It is better to leave part of your ballot blank than to make an uninformed choice. You do not need to fill in a choice for every candidate or ballot issue for your vote to be counted.
Because of the slow-down of the Postal Service, the League of Women Voters recommends that you mail your voted ballot back no later than October 20 to ensure it is received by your election office before Election Day November 3 so it will be counted.
The League of Women Voters has been registering voters and providing non-partisan voting information for over 100 years. Membership is open to men and women, citizens and non-citizens over the age of 16. For more information about the Missoula League, go to our website: lwvmissoula.org