On March 29, Montana HB 647 was defeated in the House by 43-57. It would have increased the number of signatures for a newly-qualifying party from 5,000 signatures, to 5% of the winning gubernatorial candidate’s vote in the last election. For 2020 that would have been 12,797 signatures.
Every Democrat voted for the bill, and every Republican except one, Geraldine Custer, voted against it. The Libertarian Party is on the ballot in Montana, but no other third parties are on. The Green Party tried to get on in 2018. It had enough valid signatures statewide, but after the Secretary of State put it on the ballot, the Democratic Party filed a challenge, and the State Supreme Court ruled that the party had failed to meet the distribution requirement. The Green Party has a federal lawsuit pending against the existing law. The basis for the lawsuit is the March petition deadline and the unequal distribution requirement.
If the bill had passed, the distribution requirement would have been made even more severe.