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If there is an issue that you think should become a law, you don’t have to wait until your state legislature agrees with you. You can let the voters decide by filing a ballot initiative. Your direct action can qualify your measure to be on the ballot in the next statewide election.

Last updated on: December 20, 2020

Qualified voters in the state of Montana have the power of initiative. They can propose and enact laws by petition statewide through a ballot initiative. 

The following information is a brief overview of the ballot initiative process and guidelines in the state of Montana. For a more detailed description visit the guidelines put together by the secretary of state.

Getting Started

You will submit a draft text of the initiative to the secretary of state for review by the Legislative Services Division.  Email the ballot initiative to soselections@mt.gov.

Within 14 days you will receive any suggested modifications. As the sponsor, you will need to respond to any suggestions. You must then submit the final draft of the initiative and ballot statements to the Secretary of State. 

Approval in Montana

The Secretary of State will send the initiative and ballot statements to the Attorney General. You will receive a fiscal statement. You’ll need this fiscal statement for your ballot and petition.

Now you will need to designate petition gathers and start the petition process.  

Petitioning Your Ballot Initiative

Petition gathers must collect signatures of no less than five percent of the votes cast for governor in the last gubernatorial election. This must also include no less than five percent “in each of at least one-third of the legislative representative districts.” 

Submit the completed petition sheet to the county election administrators no more than 9 months and no less than 4 weeks prior to the final date for filing; as specified by the Secretary of State

Submit signed sheets or sections of petitions to county election administrators no sooner than 9 months and no later than 4 weeks before the final date for filing the petition with the Secretary of State. The petition must also include the affidavit for each signature gatherer.

Certifying your Ballot Initiative in Montana 

Once you meet the necessary petition requirements, then you can submit the initiative petitions to the Secretary of State for certification. Once verified, the petition will be certified with the Governor and qualify for the ballot. 

Informational Pamphlet

Pro and con committees are formed and then assigned the task of writing statements for or against the initiative. These arguments will be included in the informational pamphlets sent to all registered voters along with, but not limited to, the following:

  • Proposed Initiative 
  • Fiscal Note
  • “Yes” and “No” statements,
  • Arguments for and against the measure.

To begin the process of filing a ballot initiative in Montana, check with local government, or contact us for help.