Democrats lose fight in Montana Senate over ballot measures

HELENA, Mont Sat Apr 6, 2013 11:10am EDT

Bozeman Democratic Senator Mike Phillips (R) holds a copy of the Legislature's rule book in Helena, Montana April 5, 2013. REUTERS/Dan Boyce

Bozeman Democratic Senator Mike Phillips (R) holds a copy of the Legislature's rule book in Helena, Montana April 5, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Dan Boyce

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HELENA, Mont (Reuters) - Over loud objections from Democrats, Montana's Republican-controlled Senate on Friday voted to put proposals on the 2014 ballot that would tighten voter registration and restrict the rights of third parties to compete in general elections.

The measures, which are expected to be approved by the Republican-majority House, do not need approval from the Democratic governor. They would go before Montana voters in November of next year.

Democrats tried to stall action on the bills through a rarely used parliamentary procedure, demanding that the vote be delayed until a missing Democratic senator was found and brought into the chamber.

But Republicans moved forward anyway, prompting Democrats to leap to their feet, shout objections and pound on their desks with everything from coffee mugs to copies of the Montana constitution.

"We did what we had to do and it's done," said Senate Majority Leader Art Wittich.

"I'm saddened by what we saw today - it's worse than Washington, D.C.," Governor Steve Bullock said. "I'm not embarrassed by men and women demanding a right to speak - I'm disappointed by those who denied it."

The measures would ask voters to eliminate same-day voter registration, and put in place a new primary election system that only allows the two political parties that get the most votes in the primaries to be on the ballot in the general election.

Both are seen as benefiting Republicans. Third parties have acted as spoilers for some Republican candidates in recent elections. Same-day voter registration is considered a plus for Democrats.

Any ballot-measure bills that pass the Montana Legislature with a simple majority of both chambers move right to a public vote, bypassing the governor's office.

(Reporting by Dan Boyce; Editing by Mary Wisniewski)

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Comments (25)
touch128 wrote:
You all know the Republicans do not want people voting. I would hope that the people of the once great state of Montana have not lost all there brains. This is the Republicans and it is all around the country there way to speed up Americas race to the bottom.

Apr 06, 2013 1:34am EDT  --  Report as abuse
nixonfan wrote:
Any state that denies the right to vote to dead voters is just unfair. I plan to keep voting for centuries after the “authorities” claim that I am “dead”.

Apr 06, 2013 2:02am EDT  --  Report as abuse
pro2hd wrote:
I had absolutely no doubt that the Republican’s were going to do this, as it’s the only way they happen to be doing anything these days…sneaky and under the table. I just hope the voters here in Montana have the good sense to see right through these people and vote for their own advantages and not for these people that are on their way out! 2014 is on it’s way, you know.

Apr 06, 2013 2:10am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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