April 11, 2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MONTANA GREEN PARTY CANDIDATE APPEALS DISTRICT
COURT RULING TO THE NINTH CIRCUIT
(Great Falls, Montana) Montana Green Party candidate Thomas Breck of Missoula and independent candidates Steve Kelly and Doug Campbell of Bozeman have appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in response to Federal District Judge Brian Morris’s failure to order their names onto the May 25th special election ballot.
The April 8th ruling concluded that the 5% signature requirement “severely burdens the constitutional rights of ballot access for independent candidates and minor party candidates” in this special election. It goes on to grant the plaintiffs’ injunction with the determination that a fair number of signatures for such candidates to collect in the given time frame was 400. However, as none of these candidates had done this by the March 6th deadline, the court declined to order them onto the ballot.
Kelly responded to the ruling, stating, “All three branches — legislative, executive, and judicial — have a sworn oath to protect and defend our constitutional rights. All three branches have failed the plaintiffs in this case, and the people looking for candidates advocating a new way forward.”
Campbell responded that he had received just shy of the 400 electronic petition signatures (e-signatures) prior to the March 6 deadline. The Secretary of State (SOS) had tentatively approved this format on the initial receipt of Campbell’s candidacy filing, however later they declined to accept them.
On April 9, Thomas Breck’s campaign launched a statewide effort to collect the required 400 signatures. Plaintiffs’ counsel contacted SOS’s counsel with the request that he accept this petition. This request was denied; thus the plaintiffs filed an emergency Motion to Stay the SOS from printing ballots or sending ballots to overseas voters, pending their appeal. On Tuesday April 11th the court granted the plaintiffs’ Motion to Stay the printing of ballots, but denied the stay on sending them overseas.
Breck’s campaign stated, “We are pleased that the court acknowledged the unconstitutional burden the current 5% signature requirement placed on independent and minor party candidates’. However we are shocked by the court’s failure to take action to remedy this matter. We’re confident that our assembly of 600 signatures in 7 hours will prove beyond measure that the Montana Green Party Candidate, Thomas Breck, has the “substantial modicum of support” the law requires.”