Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Montana State Trial Court Removes Green Party from the Ballot

Ballot Access News

On July 9, a Montana state trial court removed the Green Party from the ballot, finding that it was 43 signatures short of the number needed. The state requires 5,000 valid signatures, and all sides agree that this requirement was met. But there must also be approximately 130 signatures from each of one-third of the legislative districts. The court found that nine signatures are invalid because the signer didn’t put the date; five signatures are invalid because the signer only signed, but didn’t also print; and invalidated six signatures that the state had thought were valid because, the judge wrote, the person who signed was not the person who was listed as the registered voter.

Here is the 19-page opinion in Larson v State of Montana, DDV-2018-2945. The Green Party has the option of now bringing a federal lawsuit, arguing that the March 15 petition deadline for new party petitions is unconstitutionally early. Montana has harsh winters, and there is no doubt that the party would have had enough valid signatures if the deadline had not been so early. The party collected additional signatures after the deadline had passed, and tried to submit them, but they were refused. If they had been accepted, the distribution requirement would have been met and the party would be on the ballot.

The Green Party already had a primary in Montana on June 5, and the votes were counted, so there is no problem identifying who the Green Party nominees are this year.

Similar early deadlines for new parties have been declared unconstitutional in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California (for purposes of the presidential election), Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Utah (in special elections).

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