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Government & Politics

Montana Law Preventing Absentee Ballot Gathering Overturned

A voter drops off mail-in ballots at the Yellowstone County Court House June 2, 2020.
Nicky Ouellet
/
Yellowstone Public Radio
A voter drops off mail-in ballots at the Yellowstone County Court House June 2, 2020.

A Montana judge has struck down a voter-enacted law that restricted third-party collection of absentee ballots.

District Judge Jessica Fehr said Friday that the Ballot Interference Prevention Act exacerbated barriers that many rural Native Americans face in voting.

Marci McLean with Western Native Voice says the ruling is a glimmer of hope and justice.

"It's a good day for Indigenous voters to, I guess you would say be given back their access to voting, right? Be given their access to freedom of speech," McLean says.

Tribal members often rely on ballot collection and delivery because they have difficulties getting to the post office or polling stations.

The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Montana and the Native American Rights Fund challenged the law in March and were granted a restraining order to block its enforcement during the June primary election. After a hearing earlier this month, Fehr struck down the law.