It’s no secret that some factions in Montana’s political landscape are looking to make big changes to the Montana Constitution. MEIC is very concerned about the implications of potential changes – in particular for their potential to change or alter fundamental constitutional rights. There are a few ways that Montana’s guiding document could be amended or wholly replaced:
Constitutional Amendment by Citizen Initiative
A petition signed by at least 10% of qualified electors (Montana citizens who are registered to vote) – including 10% of qualified electors in each of at least half of Montana counties will place the proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot for voter approval.
Legislative Referendum on Constitutional Amendments
A legislator can propose an amendment to the Constitution. The proposed amendment must be adopted by two-thirds of all legislators and subsequently referred to Montana voters and passed by a majority of state voters.
The Montana Constitution provides for three ways a constitutional convention can be called: 1) Two-thirds of Montana legislators can vote in favor of holding a convention. Before a convention is held, it must also be approved by a majority of Montana voters, 2) a convention can be called by a majority of Montana voters using the initiative process. In order to be placed on the ballot, the initiative must first have signatures from at least 10% of qualified electors in the state, including at least 10% of the qualified electors in each of two-fifths of the legislative districts, or 3) the question of whether to hold a convention automatically lands on the ballot every 20 years if it has not appeared so in the previous 20 years (the last time this happened was in 2010). If a convention is held, any proposed amendments must ultimately be ratified by a majority of voters
This article was published in the September 2022 issue of Down To Earth.