Secretary of State Linda McCulloch said Monday that no citizen initiatives obtained enough voter signatures to qualify for the November ballot. That’s the first time that’s happened in more than four decades. “We haven’t had a general election ballot without a citizen initiative on the ballot since 1972,” McCulloch said. “That’s the same year voters approved the current Montana Constitution.” To place a statutory initiative for the ballot requires the signatures of 5 percent of the total registered Montana voters or 24,175 signatures, including those of 5 percent of the voters in 34 of the 100 state House districts. Qualifying a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot takes the signatures of 10 percent of the total registered voters or 48,349 signatures, including 10 percent of the voters in 40 of the 100 state House districts. McCulloch attributed the failure of groups to qualify initiatives to one factor. “Absentee voting has probably changed things,” McCulloch said. “Signature gatherers usually set up shop outside polling places for school and primary elections, and now there just aren’t as many people around to sign the petitions.”
The 2013 Legislature placed two referendums on the 2014 ballot. One is a proposed constitutional amendment to change the name of the office of state auditor to the commissioner of securities and insurance.
The other is a proposed change in law to end voter registration at 5 p.m. on the Friday before Election Day, which is on Tuesday. It would change a 2005 law that has allowed people to register to vote up until 8 p.m. on Election Day and then cast their votes.
In all, people, groups or corporations tried to place four proposed constitutional amendments and eight law changes on the ballot through initiatives.