As ballot measure sponsors prepare to turn in their signatures Friday, perhaps only one of proposals will likely qualify for the November election, with one still up in the air. A campaign finance measure is expected to qualify, but proposals to legalize marijuana for adults and to let a person accused of a crime to argue the merits of the law to the jury won’t make the ballot, backers said. It was unclear Thursday whether a so-called “personhood” measure, which would essentially ban abortion, will qualify. Backers were confident Thursday they had enough signatures to qualify Initiative 166. It is a policy statement saying that corporations aren’t human beings with constitutional rights and that money isn’t speech. It is a nonbinding measure telling Montana’s congressional delegation to support a federal constitutional amendment to nullify the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in the Citizens United case that removed restrictions on political speech for corporations and unions.
C.B. Pearson, treasurer of the group behind I-166, said it submitted more than 40,000 signatures before the deadline. “Montanans want clean and fair elections and don’t want corporations to use their checkbook to buy our elections,” he said. “For nearly a century, Montana had elections free of corporate money. But now our fair elections system is under attack.“ To qualify a statutory initiative for the ballot, backers must gather the signatures of at least 24,337 voters, including 5 percent of the voters in 34 of the 100 state House districts.