Both Sides Files Briefs in Montana Supreme Court, on Whether to Keep Top-Two Ballot Measure on Ballot

On January 9, briefs were filed simultaneously by both sides in MEA-MFT v State of Montana, 13-789. This is the case now in the Montana Supreme Court on whether the November 2014 ballot should contain a ballot measure imposing a top-two open primary. Here is the 41-page brief of the plaintiffs.

The plaintiffs, who oppose the ballot measure and hope to remove it from the ballot, argue that the measure violates a law that says the “Title” of a ballot measure (i.e., the language that appears on the ballot) can’t be longer than 100 words. The plaintiffs also argue that the measure violates the single-subject rule. Finally, they argue that the measure, as described by the Attorney General for the voters pamphlet, is misleading.

The state had to file its brief before it had read the other side’s brief, so that the state’s brief does not comprehensively respond to all of the other side’s arguments. For example, the reason the measure is more than 100 words is that the state believes that the Title must mention all the code sections altered by the measure. Counting each election law code section as a separate word puts the word count at 196 words. The states argues it isn’t reasonable to count numbers in the word count. But the plaintiffs, in addition to arguing that numbers do count as words, also argues that the state didn’t need to put all the code sections into the title. Because the state hadn’t seen that argument yet, of course it didn’t respond to that argument. The state’s brief mentions that the Supreme Court might want to let the state file a supplemental brief. Thanks to Mike Fellows for the link.


Both Sides Files Briefs in Montana Supreme Court, on Whether to Keep Top-Two Ballot Measure on Ballot — No Comments

  1. Montana law requires that:
    The ballot statements must express the true and impartial explanation of the proposed ballot issue in plain, easily understood language and may not be arguments or written so as to create prejudice for or against the issue.

    If that were true then we could simple say that LR 127 advances the top two candidates in a primary election. LR 127 was designed to eliminate the competition from the general elections and changes items in title 13 election law.
    And that’s only if the Attorney General can offer an impartial explanation. Remember the Montana Attorney General is a Republican. Had the Republicans taken the governorship this issue wouldn’t have gone to the people for a vote, but straight to the governor for his signature. The Libertarians got in the way

  2. Republicans controlled the Montana legislature with a Democratic governor. The Republicans didn’t have the veto power so they decided to bypass the governor and go directly to the people, rather then doing collect signatures ballot process.

  3. The plaintiff’s brief is pathetic. Montana should eliminate public education so they can get rid of the teacher’s unions.

  4. Explain yourself. So it’s just 41 pages of useless stuff? LR 127 just tries to do too much and even most Montana legislators don’t what in the bill except to say its a good bill and primary voters will one ballot with 4 included other ballots, depending on how many parties run party organization candidates.

  5. Nonstop endless court cases in all States having the alleged nonbiased stuff , X words limit, etc. regarding ballot questions.

    Simple – Abolish all such stuff.

    Shall Proposal 123XYZ be adopted ?

    When legislative bodies vote on bills the question is —
    Shall Bill 987CBA be adopted ?

    NO *explanatory* stuff.

    IE Any dumb voters should always vote NO if they have ANY doubts about the LEGAL language in any ballot proposal.

  6. Their best “argument” is the ballot title includes the section numbers that are being amended.

    It implements a Top 2 Open Primary where all voters and all candidates may participate. The Top 2 candidates advance to the general election.

  7. The general election is where things matter. So if you never get to the general election via top two, then voters will lose voices. Plenty of voters just won’t vote if their choices are only two Democrats in a conservative district. Candidates will win with less then 50 percent of the vote, which is something top two supporters say shouldn’t happen under this system.

  8. If you don’t vote, you don’t count as voting, even if you claim you would have voted under other circumstances.

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