Judge blocks enforcement of Montana law restricting absentee ballot collection

Marci McLean, executive director, Montana Native Vote and Western Native Vote

(KPAX) In a lawsuit brought by several of Montana’s Indian tribes, a state judge has blocked enforcement of a Montana law that restricts the collection of absentee ballots, including on reservations.

The ruling Wednesday by District Judge Jessica Fehr of Billings – coming less than two weeks before Montana’s June 2 primary election – will allow organizers on Indian reservations to continue with traditional ballot-collection efforts that help rural Native Americans vote.

“This is a good day for voting rights and civic engagement,” said Marci McLean, executive director of Western Native Voice, also a plaintiff in the lawsuit. “Most importantly, our organizers can continue to ensure that more indigenous voters on rural reservations are able to participate in our democracy.”

Fehr issued a temporary restraining order blocking enforcement of the law, saying the plaintiffs could suffer “irreparable harm” if the law is enforced while the lawsuit proceeds.