Montana Green Party Stands Up To Democrats' High-Powered Legal Counsel
(MONTANA) The Montana Green Party (MTGP) and their legal counsel Quentin Rhoades joined with the Secretary of State's office Tuesday to defend the legitimacy of their ballot access petition. The lawsuit, which was filed by the Montana Democratic Party on April 2nd, calls into question the validity of a handful of the 7386 validated signatures turned in by MTGP supporters.
Although Montana state law only requires minor parties to collect 5000 signatures from 34 of its 100 house districts, it also requires a certain number from each district. The 180 validated signature that the Democrats are contesting come out of 9 strategic districts that, if rejected in, would disqualify them from the general election ballot in the fall.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 27, 2018
Green Party of Montana
Danielle Breck, 406-274-3212, [email protected]
The plaintiffs presented their argument Tuesday at a hearing in Montana's first District Court in Helena which lasted most of the afternoon. Amongst the witnesses was former former Executive Director of the Montana Democrat Party Theodore Dick, who admitted he doesn't believe the MTGP's ballot access would harm the Democratic Party. When acknowledge that the Green Party has historically been marginalized and declared that "I don't think they'll garner many votes."
Counsel for the Montana Green Party, Quentin Rhoades, made this statement, "The Montana Democrats base their entire case on hyper-technical arguments that ignore the true substance of the matter. As they admitted at the Show Cause hearing, they have no evidence – none -- to suggest the petition signers did not intend to support the Montana Green Party. And voter intent is key. Regardless of technical violations in the way the petitions were signed, the U.S. Constitution protects voters' intent in their support of the Montana Green Party. We are confident the courts will protect the Constitutional rights of voters the Montana Democrats hope to disenfranchise. Green Party voters deserve to have their voices heard."
MTGP Coordinator Danielle Breck stated that "We're saddened by the Democrat effort to violate the first amendment rights of Montana voters. However, we are not surprised. Perkins & Coie are the sharks the Democratic Party calls in when they want to use the judicial system to justify violating voters' civil rights. It's what they did to defend their actions against the outcry from Bernie Sanders' supporters after the 2016 primary race, and it's what they are trying to do here in Montana right now. The Montana Green Party refuses to back down from these bullies and pledges to continue to fight to protect the rights of the voters of Montana.
Today we heard multiple witnesses testify to the fact that they had, in good faith, signed the Green Party's ballot access petition. We heard a former Executive Director of the Democratic party acknowledge that the Green Party has historically been marginalized. Finally, we heard the Democrats' high-powered out-of-state counsel object to one of their witnesses being questioned about her donations to the Democratic Party claiming it violates her 'first amendment right to associate with who she chooses.' All this and we haven't even made it through the plaintiff's witness list."
US Senate candidate Steve Kelly stated that, "Democrats' effort to suppress voters' rights and Green Party ballot access is patently undemocratic. Let the voters decide."
Candidate Doug Campbell, who is running for US House of Representatives issued this statement: "Ballot suppression again raises its ugly head. If more than 10,000 Montanans expressed their wish to have more choice on the ballot, how those citizens were provided the opportunity to sign that petition should matter not. If there is any indication of fraudulent signatures - and that does not appear to be the case, then the law should be obeyed."
The MTGP is asking all its supporters to attend Monday's hearing. They are also requesting help paying for legal costs. Donations can be made here: http://mtgreenparty.org/donate/