Gov. Steve Bullock used his veto power Friday to resurrect the possibility of allowing counties to hold an all-mail ballot for Montana’s May 25 special congressional election. Last week, House Republicans in the Legislature killed a measure, Senate Bill 305, that would have allowed the mail-ballot option. But on Friday, Bullock issued an amendatory veto to insert the mail-ballot option into another bill — House Bill 83 — that now goes back to lawmakers for another vote. A key difference in the political dynamic is that Bullock’s change, and the bill, can be approved by a simple majority of both the House and Senate. In killing SB305 last week, House Republicans used a rule that required a 60-member super-majority to resurrect it, because the bill had been killed in committee. An attempt to bring it to the floor last Friday won 51 votes, but fell short of the needed 60 vote.
“Everybody outside of this building, from the county clerks and recorders to our county elected officials, say let’s do this,” Bullock told reporters at a Capitol news conference announcing the veto. “So, I sure hope that folks in this building will listen to everybody outside of this building.”
Bullock inserted the language into HB83, from Rep. Bryce Bennett, D-Missoula, that revises other election laws.
The measure now returns to the House and Senate for an up-or-down vote on whether to accept his changes.