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2 men sue to be added to ballot for Montana special congressional election

http://www.ktvq.com/clip/13201128/2-men-sue-to-be-added-to-ballot-for-montana-special-congressional-election

BILLINGS –

Montana’s special congressional election is just weeks away, but two more candidates are fighting to get their names on the ballot.

A lawsuit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Great Falls, names Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton as the defendant.

The complaint was filed by Missoula’s Thomas Breck, a member of the Green Party, and Bozeman’s Steve Kelly, an Independent.

Breck and Kelly said in the complaint that they want to run for the vacant U.S. House Seat, which was left empty when former Congressman Ryan Zinke was elevated to the U.S. Department of Interior.

According to the complaint, Breck and Kelly are suing to get their names on the May 25 special election ballot and to change policies for future elections.

Democrat Rob Quist, Republican Greg Gianforte, and Libertarian Mark Wicks will all be listed on the ballot.

The lawsuit alleges unfair campaign policies for the Green Party and Independent Candidates.

The deadline for the two parties to submit a petition to be included on the May 25 ballot was May 6, just five days after the date for the special election was announced by Gov. Steve Bullock (D-Montana).

The two men were selected at nominating conventions for their respective parties, but under Montana law, they must collect signatures if the parties did not collect more than 5 percent of the vote in the last two general elections.

The complaint alleges that, unlike major party candidates, the Green Party and Independents had just one week to garner the necessary 14,268 signatures to get on the ballot.

“Even Superman couldn’t pull that off,” Kelly said in a press statement.

Breck said pursuing the issue through the courts is not ideal, but added that there seemed to be no other way.

“The current state of our political system presents limited courses of action for individuals who are not wealthy or well connected, but nonetheless have the desire to represent their friends and neighbors within this system,” said Breck in the press statement.

“This is about the constitutionally protected freedom of each of us to vote for a representative that we feel actually stands for our ideals. This is about bringing a voice to Montanans who are repeatedly excluded from the conversation,” he said.

Breck and Kelly are seeking a decision before the April 10 deadline for ballot printing.

Stapleton has yet to respond to the complaint.

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