A recent ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Dana Christensen that upheld Governor Steve Bullock’s directive allowing a majority of the state’s counties to accept mail-in ballots during the upcoming November elections cleared the way for counties to begin distributing the ballots. The Governor’s directive was challenged in a lawsuit filed by the Trump Campaign, the Republican National Committee and Montana Republican State Central Committee. The groups sought an injunction in federal court to stop the mail-in ballot process, claiming the Governor had outstripped his authority and violated the Constitution in issuing the directive. The law, they say, is clear on the matter that the state legislature, not the governor, has that power. Christensen disagreed and dismissed all the Republican motions. He found that Governor Bullock had acted within the Constitution and within the powers granted him by the Legislature.
Forty-five of the fifty-six counties in the state have opted for mail-in ballots including Ravalli County. Ravalli County Clerk and Recorder Regina Plettenberg wanted to let the public know that ballots for the November 3 election will be put in the mail on October 9 and go to every active voter in the county. If you are not on the active voter list, you can still register to vote until registration closes on October 26. If you need to register to vote after the regular close of registration deadline, you can do so by appearing in person at the Election Office, 215 S. 4th Street (1st floor, north entrance), Hamilton.
• THIS ELECTION WILL BE HELD BY MAIL BALLOT WITH AN IN-PERSON VOTING OPTION.
• REGULAR POLLING PLACES WILL NOT BE OPEN.
• SECONDARY PLACES OF DEPOSIT WILL BE AVAILABLE ON ELECTION DAY ONLY FOR VOTERS TO DROP THEIR BALLOTS OFF.
If you need a replacement ballot, contact the Election Office
at 375-6550 for ballot replacement options.
If you prefer to vote in person, BRING YOUR BALLOT WITH YOU to the Elections Voting Center, 215 S 4th Street (1st floor, north entrance), Hamilton, and you can vote your ballot in one of the voting booths located on site.
If you forget to bring your ballot, you can request a replacement ballot. To avoid waiting in long lines, it is recommended you come before Election Day. If returning a ballot in person, voters can deposit their ballot before election day at the Ravalli County Administrative Building (1st floor, north entrance), 215 S 4th Street, Hamilton from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
On ELECTION DAY ONLY from 7 AM to 8 PM you can deliver your ballot in person at any of the following places:
• Darby Community Clubhouse, 106 Main Street, Darby
• Florence Rural Fire Station No. 1, 234 Holloway Lane, Florence
• Ravalli County Administrative Building (1st floor, north entrance), 215 S 4th Street, Hamilton
• Ravalli County Fairgrounds, Fairgrounds Road, Hamilton
• Whitesitt Funeral Home, 314 Church Street, Stevensville
If you have any questions or concerns about voting, you can mail, phone, fax, or email the Ravalli County Elections Office at:
Ravalli County Elections Office
215 S 4th Street, Suite C
Hamilton, MT 59840
Phone: (406) 375-6550
Fax: (406) 375-6554
Elections Email: [email protected]
Plettenberg urged people who want to vote in person to use their mail-in ballot and fill it out before coming in to drop it off. She said it is a long ballot containing six ballot issues, including the recall vote in Stevensville. There are three Constitutional Amendments on the ballot two proposed by the Legislature and one by public initiative. There is one Act proposed by the Legislature and one law proposed by public initiative. Voters who reside in the Town of Stevensville can vote on whether or not to recall the Mayor.
CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT NO. 46 is a legislative proposal to amend Article XIV, Section 9 of the Montana Constitution to revise the method of qualifying a constitutional amendment by initiative for the ballot; and providing an effective date. The proposed amendment modifies the state constitution to specify proposed petitions for constitutional amendments from the people must be signed by at least ten percent of the qualified electors in two-fifths of the legislative districts. It repeals a different standard found to be unconstitutional in 2005.
CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT NO. 47, also placed on the ballot by the legislature, would amend Article III, Section 4, of the Montana State Constitution to revise the method of qualifying an initiative for ballot; and for providing an effective date. This amendment modifies the state constitution to specify proposed petitions for citizen ballot initiatives must be signed by at least five percent of the qualified electors in one-third of the legislative districts. It repeals a different standard found to be unconstitutional in 2005.
CONSTITUTIONAL INITIATIVE NO. 118 is a Constitutional Amendment proposed by Initiative Petition. Under the Montana Constitution, a person 18 years of age or older is an adult, except that the legislature or the people by initiative may establish the legal age of purchasing, consuming, or possessing alcoholic beverages. This initiative would amend the Montana Constitution to allow the legislature or the people by initiative to establish the legal age for purchasing, consuming, or possessing marijuana.
LEGISLATIVE REFERENDUM NO. 130 is an Act referred by the legislature revising firearms laws to secure the right to keep and bear arms and to prevent a patchwork of restrictions by local governments across the state and providing that local governments may not regulate the carrying of concealed weapons. LR-130 generally restricts a county, city, town, consolidated local government, or other local government unit’s authority to regulate the carrying of firearms. It removes a local government unit’s power to regulate the carrying of permitted concealed weapons or to restrict the carrying of unconcealed firearms except in publicly owned and occupied buildings under the local government unit’s jurisdiction. It repeals a local government unit’s authority to prevent or suppress the possession of firearms by convicted felons, adjudicated mental incompetents, illegal aliens, and minors. Federal and other state firearm restrictions would remain unchanged, including for these individuals. Local firearm ordinances that conflict with LR-130 could not be enforced.
INITIATIVE NO. 190 is a law proposed by Initiative Petition which 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% tax on non-medical marijuana. 10.5% 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. Marijuana taxes and fees will generate about $48 million annually by 2025. Marijuana fees will fund program administration and enforcement. The general fund will net $4 million.
STEVENSVILLE MAYOR RECALL QUESTION is on the ballot for voters in the Town of Stevensville only.
STATEMENT DEMANDING RECALL – This election is being held as provided by law on the question of whether Brandon E. Dewey, holding the office of Mayor, should be recalled for the following reasons: Mayor Brandon Dewey on 12-12-19 signed a contract for Services with First Call Computer Solutions totaling $79,800.00 that had not been authorized by the Stevensville Town Council in accordance with § 7-3-203(7) MCA. The Mayor’s action circumvented the requirements of § 7-3-203(7) MCA, § 2-399 thru 403 of the Stevensville Municipal Code (SMC) and the Town of Stevensville Purchasing Policy Section7.b) and 7.b) ii). The Mayor assumed the Power to Make Contracts, a Power that is assigned to the Stevensville Town Council via §7-3-203(7), § 7-5-4301, § 7-5-4121(2) MCA and§ 2-59 SMC. The Mayor’s action resulted in bypassing the competitive bid and contract award process. The Town Council was not allowed to participate in the contract award process and the City Attorney was not afforded the opportunity to review the contract prior to the signing by the Mayor per § 7-4-4604(3) MCA. The Mayor’s actions resulted in denying Citizens the Right of Participation, Article II, Part II, Section 8, and the Right to Know, Article II, Part II, Section 9 of The Constitution of the State of Montana, thereby violating his Oath of Office.
OFFICER’S STATEMENT – The Mayor did not violate Montana Law, Stevensville Code, or his oath in authorizing the purchase of IT services needed for the Town. The Town’s Attorney investigated and determined that all purchasing activities were done legally and compliant with laws. Montana law has a process for bidding when dealing with “other than professional, technical, engineering, or legal services.” This process does not apply to IT services. According to MCA 7-5-4301 contracts for professional, technical, engineering, or legal services are excluded from certain provisions. The Council adopted a Purchasing Policy in 2014 to delegate authority to departments and the Mayor for purchases in varying dollar amounts. Through this policy, the Council puts trust in the Mayor to spend within the budget without direct oversight. The purchasing policy states that for other professional services, including non-construction services totaling between $1,501 – $25,000 per agreement, purchases contained in the current fiscal year budget…, Department Supervisors need only get confirmation by the Mayor prior to purchasing.” With Council’s approval in the 2019-2020 Budget, the services totaling less than $25,000 in FY2019-2020 was consented to by the Town Council. The Council had authorized several payments to the vendor after the Mayor authorized the purchase.