On August 19, the Montana Supreme Court issued an order, affirming the decision of a lower state court that the Green Party should be removed from the Montana ballot. The Montana Supreme Court said it would explain later. The lower court had removed the Green Party because approximately 600 signers of the Green Party petition had signed a form asking that their signatures be removed from the party’s petition.
The Montana election code has no provision for signers of a party petition to remove their names. The lower state court said because there is such a provision for initiatives, the implication is that all types of petition are covered.
The only reason the subtraction of approximately 600 signatures mattered, is that the Montana party petition has an unconstitutional, unequal distribution requirement. Although the party petition had 13,000 signatures, and only 5,000 are required, the subtractions brought down the number in one of the legislative districts.
Whether the removal of the party from the ballot violates dues process is also pending in U.S. District Court. If the state precedent is allowed to stand, no new party in the future will ever be able to get on the Montana ballot with safety. The precedent will be that even after the party has been certified for the ballot, and given its own primary, several months later opponents of that party can erase its ballot status.
Montana Green Party activists are reporting that some of the party’s petitioners were browbeaten into removing their names, and some of them are willing to testify that they do not want their names removed. But it is already too late to get this evidence into the state court proceeding.