Green Party candidates, voters sue to be on ballot in Montana

Green Party candidates, voters sue to be on ballot in Montana

Two Green Party candidates and two voters on Tuesday sued Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton (R) in an effort to get the candidates to appear on the state's November ballot. 

The federal lawsuit came after a state judge ruled Friday that Green Party candidates would not appear on the ballot after the state Democratic Party filed a lawsuit arguing that hundreds of people who signed wished to take back their signatures but were not allowed to. 

Some voters wanted to take back their signatures after learning Montana Republican Party paid for the petitioning that qualified the Green Party, according to The Independent Record.

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In his ruling, Lewis and Clark County District Court Judge James Reynold said Stapleton didn't follow state law when he refused to accept some forms submitted by people who wanted to withdraw their signatures for petitions that qualified the Green Party for the ballot.

On Tuesday, Green Party attorney general candidate Roy Davis, Green Party state Senate hopeful Gary Marbut and two Green Party voters who participated in the state primary in May filed a lawsuit in federal court arguing that removing their candidates disenfranchised them. 

The federal lawsuit is asking for a repeal of Reynold’s ruling, allowing them to appear on the Nov. 3 ballot, a decision that must be finalized by Aug. 20. Stapleton has also appealed Reynold's ruling to the Montana Supreme Court.

“[Reynold's] order does not explain what legal authority the state court had to disenfranchise the nearly 800 Montana voters that had lawfully cast Green Party ballots well before the Democratic Party had bothered to file its lawsuit on June 1, 2020,” the lawsuit said.

The Green Party argues that even though hundreds of people wished to take back their signatures, 800 people voted lawfully in the Green Party primary. 

“The buyer’s remorse suffered by some of the Green Party petition signers well after the party qualified for the ballot – and well after many of the Green Party voters had cast ballots – did not justify the state court’s cavalier disenfranchisement of [the plaintiffs] and nearly 800 other Green voters months after they had lawfully cast ballots in Montana’s primary election,” the suit said.