Montana Secretary of State Office
Contact Info: firstname.lastname@example.org
Per the Secretary of State’s Office
The Secretary of State’s office is simply ministerial and does not have authority to police and/or enforce candidates running for office. When a candidate signs their declaration they are swearing to the fact that they meet the qualifications for office. Once a candidate does this, our office must accept that filing at face value and file it.
The statutes below fall within the jurisdiction of the Commissioner of Political Practices, and these statutes may or may not be applicable. It would be most helpful for you to access each of these Title 13 statutes under Chapters 35, 36 & 37 at the following link: http://data.opi.mt.gov/bills/mca_toc/13.htm
If you find these statutes are not applicable, there is always the option to challenge a candidate’s qualifications in court.
13-35-103. Violations as misdemeanor. A person who knowingly violates a provision of the election laws of this state for which no other penalty is specified is guilty of a misdemeanor.
13-35-207. Deceptive election practices. A person is guilty of false swearing, unsworn falsification, or tampering with public records or information, as appropriate, and is punishable as provided in 45-7-202, 45-7-203, or 45-7-208, as applicable, whenever the person:
(1) falsely represents the person’s name or other information required upon the person’s registry card and causes registration with the card;
(2) signs a registry card knowingly witnessing any false or misleading statement;
(3) knowingly causes a false statement, certificate, or return of any kind to be signed;
(4) falsely makes a declaration or certificate of nomination;
(5) files or receives for filing a declaration or certificate of nomination knowing that all or part of the declaration or certificate is false;
(6) forges or falsely makes the official endorsement of a ballot;
(7) forges or counterfeits returns of an election purporting to have been held at a precinct, municipality, or ward where no election was in fact held;
(8) knowingly substitutes forged or counterfeit returns of election in place of the true returns for a precinct, municipality, or ward where an election was held;
(9) signs a name other than the person’s own to a petition, signs more than once for the same ballot issue, or signs a petition while not being a qualified elector of the state; or
(10) makes a false oath or affidavit where an oath or affidavit is required by law.
13-36-101. Grounds for contest of nomination or election to public office. An elector may contest the right of any person to any nomination or election to public office for which the elector has the right to vote if the elector believes that:
(1) a deliberate, serious, and material violation of any provision of the law relating to nominations or elections has occurred;
(2) the person was not, at the time of the election, eligible to be a candidate for the office;
(3) votes were cast illegally or were counted or canvassed in an erroneous or fraudulent manner.
13-36-102. Time for commencing contest. (1) Five days or less after a candidate has been certified as nominated, a person wishing to contest the nomination to any public office shall give notice in writing to the candidate whose nomination the person intends to contest, briefly stating the cause for the contest. The contestant shall make application to the district court in the county where the contest is to be had. The judge shall then set the time for the hearing. The contestant shall serve notice 3 days before the hearing is scheduled. The notice must state the time and place of the hearing.
(2) Any action to contest the right of a candidate to be declared elected to an office or to annul and set aside the election or to remove from or deprive any person of an office of which the person is the incumbent for any offense mentioned in this title must, unless a different time is stated, be commenced within 1 year after the day of election at which the offense was committed.
13-36-103. Court having jurisdiction of proceedings. An application for filing a statement, payment of a claim, or correction of an error or false recital in a filed statement or an action or proceeding to annul and set aside the election of any person declared elected to an office or to remove or deprive any person of the person’s office for an offense mentioned in this title or any petition to excuse any person or candidate in accordance with the power of the court to excuse, as provided in 13-36-209, must be made or filed in the district court of the county in which the certificate, declaration, or acceptance of the person’s nomination as a candidate for the office to which the person is declared nominated or elected is filed or in which the incumbent resides.
13-36-104. Nomination contests. In the case of nomination contests, the judge of the district court shall hear and determine the case and make all necessary orders for the trial of the case and carrying the judgment into effect. The order of the judge must express the will of a majority of the legal voters of the political party, as indicated by their votes, disregarding technicalities or errors in spelling. Each party is entitled to subpoenas. The registrar shall issue a certificate to the person declared nominated by the court. The certificate is conclusive evidence of the right of the person to hold the nomination.
13-36-201. Contents of contest petition. Any petition contesting the right of any person to a nomination or election must set forth the name of every person whose election is contested and the grounds of the contest. The petition may not be amended unless the amendment is authorized by a court.