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Law restricting political activity on campuses challenged for third time

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A third lawsuit targeting Senate Bill 319, passed this year, was filed Oct. 12. SB 319 prohibits political committees from registering voters or collecting signatures on campus.

The Montana Democratic Party and the campaign committee of U.S. Sen. Jon Tester filed the lawsuit against Montana Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen and Commissioner of Political Practices Jeff Mangan, according to a Montana Free Press article.

The plaintiffs allege that SB 319 restricts college students’ rights to be politically engaged. “By targeting only university residence halls, dining facilities, and athletic facilities, the Legislature made clear its intent: preventing young, newly enfranchised Montanans from participating fully in the political process,” the complaint said.

Supporters of the bill believe the restrictions are important to protect college students from being exploited.

The bill and its controversy come on the heels of Montana’s record-breaking turnouts for young voters in the 2020 election.

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