HELENA – Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton is asking the state Supreme Court to overturn a judge’s decision to remove Green Party candidates from the November ballot.
Stapleton’s office filed an appeal Wednesday of the decision by District Judge James Reynolds of Helena.
Reynolds ruled last week that 87 of the more than 7,000 signatures used to qualify the Montana Green Party for the ballot were invalid. Without those signatures, the party fell short of the requirement that it get a minimum number in at least 34 of Montana’s 100 state House districts.
The ruling meant five Green candidates – U.S. Senate candidate Steve Kelly, U.S. House candidate Doug Campbell and legislative candidates from Missoula, Hamilton and Heart Butte – would be removed from the general election ballot.
The Montana Democratic Party and three activists and officeholders filed suit in April, seeking to invalidate about 200 signatures on the Green Party’s petition for ballot access.
Reynolds agreed that 87 of the signatures were invalid, for a variety of reasons, such as the signature gatherer not personally witnessing the signing or the signature on the petition not matching the one in the registered voter files.
Montana Supreme Court Clerk Ed Smith said Thursday that the court will likely consider the appeal quickly, because of its time-sensitive nature.