LR 129, the “Ballot Interference Prevention Act” (BIPA) passed in the November 2018 election and is now in effect for all Montana elections.
What is "BIPA?" BIPA is the Montana Ballot Interference Prevention Act (BIPA). BIPA began as a legislative referendum, SB 352, during the 2017 legislative session. It passed the House on third reading, 51-49, and thus qualified for the November 2018 general election as the ballot referendum LR 129. In the 2018 November general election, 63% of Montana voters voted "Yes" in support of BIPA and BIPA became law. Enforcement of BIPA began with the first Montana elections 2019 (the Evergreen Fire District Levy).
BIPA regulations apply to: 1) absentee voters' ballots and 2) hand-delivered mail-only election ballots. BIPA does not reply to mailed ballots or ballots voted in-person.
All Montana elections will now comply with the requirements of the BIPA.
- Commissioner of Political Practice's BIPA Policy 5.0
- Secretary of State's BIPA Election Directive
- Download a BIPA Ballot Collection Registry form
- Read about BIPA in the MCA
Collecting or delivering ballots? Check out these tips!
Be prepared and make sure to download and print off a Ballot Collection Registry form!
The below tips will help Montanans who wish to drop off ballots for family, friends, acquaintances, or caregivers remain in compliance with Montana law:
1. BIPA does not apply for ballots returned by mail.
2. If you will be collecting and dropping off ballots for other voters, print off the BIPA registry form before you collect ballots. You will need to record the address for each voter whose ballot you are delivering. Save time by completing the form before delivering ballots.
3. You can collect and deliver a maximum of six ballots per election.
4. Remember, you only need to fill out a BIPA registry from if you are dropping off other voters' ballots. You do not need to fill out a BIPA registry form to drop off your own ballot.
5. Do you know others who help their family and friends deliver ballots? If so, help spread the word about BIPA requirements! Share this BIPA page with anyone who may need to know about these new legal requirements for delivering ballots.
6. If you have questions, contact your local election office or the Secretary of State’s office. If you have a compliance question, contact the COPP.
With the new law (reference 13-35-7, MCA), Montanans maintain the right to decide how and when to return their ballot but should be aware of the new ballot collection requirements:
1. Any unauthorized person who picks up and delivers another person’s ballot, or a person who drops off ballots without registering with an election administrator, will be assessed a $500 penalty per ballot.
2. Ballots can only be picked up and dropped off only by authorized persons. Authorized persons include people with these relationships to a voter: acquaintance, caregiver, family member, or household member.
3. Authorized persons can drop off a maximum of six ballots per election. Any ballots delivered in excess of six ballots may be assessed a $500 penalty per ballot.
4. A ballot collector who delivers ballots to an election administrator’s office or a designated polling place must register their name and contact information, along with each voter’s name, mailing address, and the voter’s relationship to the collector. Registry options will be available at ballot drop boxes.
5. The following groups are excluded from restrictions on ballot collections:
- Election officials, and
- US postal service workers or other individuals specifically authorized by law to transmit US mail.
Roles in BIPA
1. The Secretary of State is responsible for all outreach and education communications to the public about BIPA.
2. County election administrators are required to have all ballot collectors register their contact information and each voter's address for every collected ballot on a Ballot Collection Registry form. Election administrators maintain the hard copy BIPA registry forms and upload a digital scan of the forms to the COPP where all registrations will be maintained.
3. The Commissioner of Political Practices (COPP), in conjunction with county attorneys, is charged to investigate and enforce the BIPA.
1. If you will be collecting ballots, first, know the above compliance requirements.
2. Then, make sure to have a Ballot Collection Registry form available to collect voters' address information when you collect ballots.
3. Contact your local county elections office or the Secretary of State with questions.
4. To file a complaint, fill out the BIPA complaint form and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include all relevant information that pertains to the complaint-related issue or situation.
5. Reference the COPP's 2019 BIPA policy.