On May 29, Montana Secretary of State Linda McCulloch told the press that the Montana independent petition deadline (for candidates running for office other than President) will be May 29. As previously noted, late on Friday, May 25, a U.S. District Court had invalidated the statutory March deadline.
Obviously, for the Secretary of State to set May 29 as the new deadline, the very day that the public became aware of the court decision, makes it impossible for any potential independent candidates to take advantage of the victory in 2012. The March petition deadline had been passed by the 2007 session of the legislature. The law in effect before 2007 said the deadline should be one week before the primary. The Secretary of State feels the proper course of action is to reinstate the deadline that would have been in effect, if the 2007 legislature had not acted. The Secretary of State says the Attorney General agrees with her.
During the period 1968 through this year, there have been 51 instances around the nation when a petition deadline was declared unconstitutional. No state other than Montana ever set a new deadline, by administrative means, using the Secretary of State’s method. On the other hand, since there are no known individuals who have expressed a desire to be independent candidates (for office other than President) in Montana this year, the matter may be moot. It is extremely likely that the 2013 session of the legislature will pass a new deadline.