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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Judge strikes down voting restrictions, saying they 'severely' burden voting rights

A Yellowstone County District Court judge has struck down three laws regulating Montana elections, saying they “severely” burden the right to vote, especially for Native Americans, students, the elderly and voters with disabilities.

Judge Michael Moses issued his ruling in the case Friday following a two week trial that took place in August. Four tribes and several political advocacy groups for young people and Native Americans sued the state after Republicans passed the policies in 2021.

The three laws eliminate same-day voter registration, restrict acceptable voter ID at the polls and regulate third party collection of ballots. Republicans say these bills are necessary to secure Montana elections. There is no evidence of prior widespread voter fraud.

The laws were allowed to stand for Montana’s June primary election. Judge Moses has blocked the laws ahead of the November general election, but the state may appeal the ruling to the Montana Supreme Court.

Shaylee began covering state government and politics for Montana Public Radio in August 2020. Originally from Belgrade, Montana, she graduated from the University of Montana’s journalism program and previously worked as a reporter for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and UM’s Legislative News Service. Please share tips, questions and concerns by emailing shaylee.ragar@mso.umt.edu.