Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) – On January 18, 2023, a bill heard in the Senate was all about keeping corporate influences out of the official administration of Montana’s elections.
Senator Shelley Vance sponsored Senate Bill 117, which would prohibit state and local governments from using outside money to conduct elections, instead requiring that all election administration costs be paid for with public funds.
Vance said Montana’s elections are not for sale and that elections are decided by the voting public. She believes it’s not appropriate for anyone other than the public to be funding the administration of elections.
“There is no room for even the appearance of a corrupting influence or a tipping of the scales when it comes to the official operations of our elections,” Vance said.
According to Vance, SB 117 establishes a felony penalty for violations of its provisions keeping the official state administration of elections free of outside influence.
“A person who purposely or knowingly violates this section is guilty of a felony and shall be punished my imprisonment for not less than one year or more than 10 years, or by a fine of not more than $50,000,” Vance said. “I put that penalty in there because citizens need to have belief and faith in government services that are provided to them.”
Vance said this is a straightforward election integrity bill that will strengthen Montana’s confidence in our election processes.
“The people that would be making or had made these decisions with the 2020 grant money are local elected officials,” Vance said. “I think that we need to hold our local elected officials accountable. Our citizens need to believe in our government and right now some don’t and that kind of breaks my heart.”
A similar bill to this session’s SB 117 narrowly failed on the Senate floor last session, but Vance believes the issue of outside money flowing into the official administration of elections has received a lot of attention over the past two years and that people are much more aware of it now.