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Supreme Court denies push to add Green Party candidates to Montana ballot

Supreme Court denies push to add Green Party candidates to Montana ballot
© Greg Nash

The Supreme Court declined to take up an emergency petition from Montana Secretary of State Cory Stapleton (R) to allow candidates for the Green party to appear on the state’s ballots this fall.

Justice Elena KaganElena KaganKey moments from Barrett's marathon question-and-answer session Barrett fight puts focus on abortion in 2020 election The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump, Biden hit campaign trail in Florida MORE issued the order Tuesday in a decision that could impact Montana’s highly competitive Senate race and other tight down-ballot contests. The move comes amid concerns that Green Party candidates in the state would draw votes away from Democrats.

Stapleton had filed an emergency request Monday asking the high court to stay an order from Montana’s Supreme Court removing over 560 people’s names from ballot petitions. Democrats had convinced people to disavow their support for the third party candidates after it was revealed that the Republican Party funded the signature-gathering effort to get the contenders’ names on the ballot under the Green Party and that the Green Party itself did not support the effort. 

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Stapleton had initially not accepted the people’s requests to have their names stricken, but a lower court judge and the Montana Supreme Court allowed the petition signatures to be revoked, leaving the Green Party candidates without the necessary support to qualify for a spot on the ballot

The timing of the Supreme Court ruling significantly narrows the timeline for any Green Party candidates to secure a spot on the ballot. Election administrators must begin sending printed ballots to absent military and overseas voters by the middle of September.

The decision will remove Green Party candidates from the Senate race and other competitive contests. The contest between Sen. Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesClimate change — Trump's golden opportunity Steve Bullock raises .8 million in third quarter for Montana Senate bid Overnight Defense: National Guard says no federal requests for election security help | Dems accuse VA head of misusing resources | Army official links COVID-19 to troop suicides MORE (R), who is seeking a second term, and Gov. Steve BullockSteve BullockPandemic politics dominate competitive governor's races Judge tosses land management plans after ousting Pendley from role Biden and Schumer face battles with left if Democrats win big MORE (D) is rated as a “toss up” by The Cook Political Report. Montana’s at-large House seat was decided by 5 points in 2018, and the race to fill the vacancy left by outgoing Rep. Greg GianforteGregory Richard GianfortePandemic politics dominate competitive governor's races The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump takes early victory lap, rips off mask Pence seeks to boost Daines in critical Montana Senate race MORE (R) is expected to be close again this year.

Democrats celebrated Kagan’s decision Tuesday, accusing the GOP of employing “dirty tricks” to try to undermine the party’s chances in the state.

“The @MTGOP ran a scheme to get Green Party candidates on the ballot to siphon votes.  It was exposed and after litigation, the candidates were removed from the ballot. Supreme Court will not overturn that ruling!” tweeted Marc Elias, an elections lawyer for the Democratic Party.

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“Today the United States Supreme Court dealt the latest blow to the Montana GOP’s massive fraudulent effort to mislead Montana voters and tamper with our elections,” added Montana Democratic Party Executive Director Sandi Luckey. “The Montana Democratic Party applauds the Court’s decision to reject Secretary Stapleton’s embarrassingly partisan behavior, and uphold the integrity of Montana’s elections.”