The Green Party candidate Jill Stein picked off just enough votes in several swing states to draw the 2016 election away from former Secretary Hillary Clinton. A few weeks ago, the Montana Supreme Court released a finding after Secretary of State Corey Stapleton appealed a Lewis and Clark County District Court decision. The end-result was removing the Green Party from its ballot.
In addition, the US District Court located in Helena, MT gave the Green Party its marching orders. Both the Montana Democratic Party and a small group of individuals signed petitions in order to sue the state Secretary of State. Its purpose had been to place the Green Party on the ballot.
Their premise was that Stapleton had not stayed true to the law when he refused to let them withdraw those signatures. They had helped Green Party qualify its candidate to take a place in the 2020 election.
The Montana Republican Party was responsible for the efforts to qualify the Green Party via ads. The latter said they were not involved in nor did they indicate they endorsed any Green Party candidate with those qualification signatures. In other words, the individuals did not have enough signatures to put the Green Party candidate’s name on the ballots.
However, Judge James Reynolds in Helena found:
‘[Stapleton had wrongly] not accept withdrawal requests submitted after he approved the Green Party to be on the primary ballot, or requests submitted electronically. After that, the Green Party was left with too few signatures to remain qualified.’
One day prior to Montana’s general election ballot certification, the Montana State Supreme Court issued its order. ]
The Montana Democratic Party Executive Director Sandi Luckey released an email statement on Wednesday:
‘Montanans have known for months now that the Montana GOP engaged in a massive fraudulent effort to mislead Montana voters and tamper with our elections. Today’s decision, at long last, secures justice for hundreds of Montanans who were lied to, and puts an end to this shameful attack on the integrity of Montana’s elections.’
The US District Court Judge Dana Christensen said in his order:
‘[A]n injunction would nonetheless be inappropriate, given the parallel proceeding before the Montana Supreme Court.’
Attorney for Bozeman, Matthew Monforton represented both voters and candidates. He also released a statement last May, which was long after the vote, but he will file an appeal on the order:
‘Nearly 800 Montanans voted for Green candidates when the State mailed ballots in April and May. The courts today ruled that the Green Party’s ballot petition can be invalidated by signers withdrawing their signatures in late May — well after most voters had cast their ballots. The constitutional rights of these voters to have their ballots counted is clearly being violated, which is why we are appealing immediately.’
The Executive Director Spenser Merwin also released an email statement:
‘While claiming to support the integrity of our elections, the Montana Democratic Party spent tens of thousands of dollars to suppress Green Party voices and limit Montanans’ choices this November, all so Gov. Bullock won’t have to face a Green Party candidate that will expose his administration’s corruption.’
Two candidates in the Green Party filed the case in federal court.
This is the second time in two years that the Green Party appeared to be qualified for the ballot and then removed. It is still unknown who financed a 2018 signature-gathering effort. In 2019 the state Legislature passed a law requiring groups that spend money to qualify a minor party to register a minor party qualification committee.
Check out below what happened on Twitter after the courts’ findings:
Featured image is a screenshot via YouTube.
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