After months of working to make it on the ballot, a judge in Helena ruled the Montana Green Party will not be an option for voters in November. Danielle Breck coordinator of the Montana Green Party said she was blindsided by this decision.
She knew it was a possibility, but she didn't hear anything about the court until around 3:00 p.m. yesterday.
Helena District Court Judge James Reynolds made the decision to remove the party, saying the group didn't have enough viable signatures. He sent an order to Secretary of State Corey Stapleton, telling them to take the party off the ballot.
"I expected something more balanced perhaps something like an order for the election officials to recount the signatures," said Breck.
To qualify for the ballot, the Green Party needed 5,000 signatures from at least 34 state house districts. Stapleton's office certified more than 7,300 signatures.
However, democrats argued in court the Greens only gathered signatures from 30 districts, which would unqualify them. The democrats said there were issues with who signed off on petition forms, that signatures didn't match what was on file for the vote and more.
"It’s all the interpretation of the law and the judge chose to do that. Given the fact that that perfect form of the law kind of receded function of the law to make sure we had support.. It’s frustrating and we thought we were going to do better," said Breck.
Earlier this year, the Green Party got enough signatures (on the last day possible) to put candidates out for the November midterms. A few green candidates filed, including two looking to unseat democratic Senator Jon Tester. Breck believes the democrats had an agenda, and is trying to get her party out of the way.
"We’re frustrated that the democrats would you know go at these efforts to violate the voter's rights, Montana’s rights, the rights of independents."
The Democratic Party released a statement, saying in part: "Today's ruling is a win for Montanans against the tactics of out-of-state, republican dark money groups that are blatantly trying to interfere in Montana’s democracy...Protecting the integrity of Montana’s elections is of the utmost importance, which is why we're pleased with today's opinion."
Breck says from here, the party is hoping that the Secretary of State fights this decision.
Regardless of the outcome, they'll keep pushing for their cause.