By Cory Stapelton
Syndicated by: Montana News
Be careful what gets your attention
Earlier this month, the Montana Democratic Party filed a lawsuit against me in my official capacity as Montana Secretary of State. It wasn’t the first time our office has been sued since my administration took office 16 months ago, but this lawsuit is the most threatening to Montana’s elections and our Office’s mission of promoting democracy.
In essence, the Democrats want the Green Party removed from the statewide ballot. The Green Party was certified by me in March, as ‘ballot eligible’ for the June primary election. Since Montana has an ‘open’ primary, this means voters will receive a Green Party ballot along with a Republican and Democrat ballot. Then in November, depending on the contest, voters could see up to five different party choices on the single general election ballot (Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Independent, Green).
After the deadline for doing so, the Democrats are now wanting to challenge the Green Party petition signatures which were submitted to our local election administrators. These signatures were verified by the election administrators and certified by my Office. This is how the Greens got on the ballot. The Democrats want to selectively override the expertise of our county election administrators, by removing a couple hundred petition signatures, but adding back none of the thousands of signatures which were not included by the clerks for certification.
Not one signature has been accused of forgery. Even the Democrats’ own witnesses testify they want the Green Party on the ballot. This is a lawsuit in search of an injury.
To help justify their lawsuit, the Democrats cite signature gathering activities connected to a “for-profit, out-of-state-company.” So the Democrats hired a for-profit, out-of-state law firm to annul the Greens. Only problem is, the lawyers from that Seattle firm haven’t passed the Montana bar to practice law here. The Montana Supreme Court has a rule that allows two ‘freebies’ to firms practicing in Montana without being licensed. This is the eighth time, now, this particular law firm has practiced law in Montana without being licensed.
This is nuts.
The lawsuit by the Montana Democratic Party against the Montana Secretary of State to throw the Green Party off the ballot needs to stop! When the Democrats are attacking the verification capabilities of our elections administrators in Cascade, Yellowstone and Lewis and Clark counties, they aren’t just attacking three random clerks. They’re attacking three of our best.
As a reader of our monthly newsletter, please know that our Office will continue to promote and defend democracy. Thank you for all your comments!
Montana Secretary of State