Montana Redistricting Process

Congressional and Legislative

The Montana Districting and Apportionment Commission draws the congressional and state legislative districts. It is a five-member commission. The state currently has only one congressional district but is projected to gain a second following the 2020 reapportionment.

Members of the Commission are chosen by the majority and minority leaders of each chamber of the Legislature, who appoint one member each. A fifth member is appointed by the first four within 20 days after their designation, and the fifth serves as chair. If the four original members fail to name a fifth, the State Supreme Court appoints the final Commissioner. No Commissioner can be a public official.

No later than 90 days after the census results are made public, the Commission sends its passed maps to the Montana Secretary of State. Within the first ten legislative days after receiving census figures or the next regular session of the Legislature after the Commissioners are appointed, the Commission must submit its plan to the legislature which then has 30 days to suggest changes to the proposed district maps. The Commission, in turn, is given 30 days to submit its final redistricting plan to the Secretary of State of Montana to become law. The Commission must hold at least one public hearing before filing its final plan with the secretary of state, and at least one additional public hearing before submitting its plan to the legislature. The Commission acts by majority vote.

Source: Mont. Const. art. V, § 14. Mont. Code Ann. §§ 5-1-101; 5-1-102; 5-1-108; 5-1-109; 5-1-110; 5-1-111 (2019); H.B. 506 (enacted May 14, 2021)

Previous Redistricting Cycles


  • Congressional
    • N/A (At-large)
  • Legislative
    • Commission’s Final Plans
      • Adopted = February 12, 2013
    • Litigation History
      • Willems v. State, 325 P.3d 1204 (Mont. 2014): Registered voters in two different counties filed a lawsuit challenging the Commission’s adopted legislative plans on the grounds its decision-making process and placement of two holdover Senators violated various voting and participation rights under the state constitution. On March 26, 2014, the Montana Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s ruling in favor of the defendants, finding that the Commission followed appropriate procedures and their final decisions were constitutionally permissible.


  • Congressional
    • N/A (At-large)
  • Legislative
    • Commission’s Final Plans
      • Adopted = February 5, 2003
    • Litigation History
      • Brown v. Montana Districting and Apportionment Comm’n, No. ADV 2003-72 (Mont. Dist. Ct. July 2, 2003): After the Commission sent its proposed plans to the Legislature, the Legislature passed HB 309 which requested the Commission to reconvene and adopt a new plan, but the Commission ultimately adopted its original plans. The Secretary of State filed a complaint seeking the court to decide whether the Commission’s plan was unconstitutional and was unenforceable in light of HB 309. On July 2, 2003, a Montana District Court ruled in favor of the Commission, finding that HB 309 violated the state constitution’s redistricting procedures and ordering the Secretary of State to file the Commission’s adopted plans.
      • Wheat v. Brown, 85 P.3d 765 (Mont. 2004): When the Commission adopted its legislative plans, the holdover Senators assigned in its plans differed from the Legislature’s assignments set forth in a bill passed after receiving the Legislature’s plans. Several state Senators filed suit, challenging the Commission’s plans as invalid on the grounds it did not include the holdover assignments as required by the new state law. On February 18, 2004, the Montana Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Commission and upheld its plans, finding that the holdover assignments bill violated the state constitution’s redistricting procedures.

Governor Bill Signing

If a bill is presented to the governor during or after session, the governor has 10 days to sign or veto it; otherwise, it becomes law without signature. Holidays are excluded in these calculations. Line-item vetoes are permitted.

Ballot Measure Process

Kinds of Ballot Measures
Direct initiatives and referendums are permitted to amend statutes. Direct initiatives are permitted to amend the state Constitution. Legislatively initiated ballot measures may amend both statutes and the Constitution.

Single-Subject Rule
There is not a single-subject rule, but there is a separate vote requirement.

Initiative Subject Restrictions
Initiatives cannot contain appropriations, or special or local legislation.

Signature Requirements
The signature requirement for constitutional amendments is 10% of the qualified electors of the state as a whole, including at least 10% of the qualified electors in at least two-fifths of the legislative districts of the state. All other initiatives and veto referendums require signatures from 5% of the qualified electors of the state as a whole, including at least 5% of the qualified electors in at least one-third of the legislative districts of the state. Qualified electors are determined by the number of votes cast for the office of governor in the preceding general election. 603,587 people voted for a candidate for governor in the 2020 General Election in Montana, so 60,359 signatures would be required for constitutional amendments, 30,180 signatures would be required for any other initiative, and 30,180 signatures would be required for a veto referendum.

Submission Deadlines
Initiative petitions must be submitted to the county election administrators for the district where those signatures were gathered no later than four weeks before the final deadline for election administrators to file certified petitions with the Secretary of State (June 17, 2022). County election administrators must file certified initiative petitions with the Secretary of State no later than 5:00 p.m. of the third Friday of the fourth month prior to the election at which the measure will be voted upon (July 15, 2022). Referendums must be submitted no later than six months after the end of the legislative session in which the act was passed.

Circulation Period
The circulation period for initiative petitions is one year.

Ballot Title and Summary
The Ballot Title and Summary written by the petitioners and are identical. Expedited reviews for Titles and Summaries are permitted.

Other Requirements
A fiscal impact statement is required if the proposal ballot issue has an effect on the revenue, expenditures or the fiscal liability of the state. Circulators are required to be a resident of the state. There are no supermajority requirements. The Legislature can amend or repeal voter-approved statutes, but must follow constitutional guidelines to amend or repeal an amendment by sending the Legislature’s proposal to voters by a two-thirds vote of all of its members. Referendums cannot target appropriations of money. Initiatives are permitted on general election ballots, but not on primary, special, and odd-year election ballots.

Source: Mont. Const. art. III, §4; art. V, §11; art. XIV. Mont. Code, § 13-27 (2019). Montana Ballot Issue and Signature Gathering Guidelines

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