A Montana judge ordered election officials to remove the Green Party off the ballot, giving the Democratic candidate a boost in the 2018 midterm elections.
Helena District Court Judge James Reynolds’ decision to remove Green Party candidate Steve Kelly off the ballot comes after Montana Democrats accused the party for not obtaining signatures the right way, according to a Monday report by The Associated Press. Accusations included signatures not matching the registered voters, incomplete entries, and the party not disclosing all of its financial activities.
The Montana Democrats argued that the Green Party failed to submit 5,000 signatures from at least 34 state House districts in order to qualify for the midterms. The Green Party received enough signatures, but only from 30 state House districts.
The Montana Democrats also claimed that the Republicans helped the Green Party gather signatures to take votes away from the Democratic Party. Montana Sen. Jon Tester is one of the most vulnerable Senate Democrats seeking re-election against Republican candidate Matt Rosendale.
The Green Party turned in over 7,000 signatures to qualify for the midterms early in the year, but two of the signature gatherers were associated with the Republican political consulting firm Advanced Micro Targeting, according to a report by The Hill.
State campaign laws require all financial activities to be reported, but the Democrats argued that the Green Party did not report its alleged affiliation with the Republican Party. The state commissioner is currently looking into the matter.
After reviewing the claims, Reynolds turned down 80 signatures gathered through petitioning, which left the Green Party to fall short of remaining on the ballot.
Montana Democrats Executive Director Nancy Keenan blamed the Republicans for using “dark money groups that are blatantly trying to interfere in Montana’s democracy.” However, Green Party Director Danielle Breck claimed the Democrats were interfering with the election.
“The voter suppression by the Democrats is quite blatant,” Breck told the Independent Record. “There were plenty of signatures on our petition.”
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