No Citizen’s Initiatives on Montana Ballots for the First Time in Over 40 Years
Montana Secretary of State Linda McCulloch's office recently tallied up all of the signatures for a slew of citizen's initiatives and found that Montana voters will be missing something on the 2014 general election ballot that has been traditionally been there for more than 40 years.
"We had 12 citizen's initiatives that were qualified for signature gathering and it looks like we had less than about 20,000 signatures turned in," McCulloch said.
To put that in perspective, each initiative needs over 24,000 signatures and all of them combined couldn't even reach that total. The highest number of signatures garnered was for an anti-trapping initiative, but it only reached about 8,000 signatures.
"This is the first year since 1972 that we haven't had any citizen's initiatives on the ballot, that's quite a big thing," McCulloch said.
The dramatic shift in the number of signatures gathered may be because of changes in the way people are voting these days.
"I think a lot of it has to do with the way they collect the signatures," McCulloch said. "Usually they collect the signatures at school elections and the primary elections, but when we have like 67% of the primary election which is conducted by absentee ballot, we don't have as many people showing up at the polling places... and most of the school elections are conducted by vote-by-mail... so people are just not coming to the polling places."
It is possible that more signatures were gathered than were eventually turned in, but the sharp decline in the number of signatures indicates that at the very least, signature gatherers need to come up with some new strategies.