HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A judge ordered the Montana Green Party be removed from the ballot this fall because it did not submit enough valid signatures to qualify.

Helena District Court Judge James Reynolds directed Secretary of State Corey Stapleton to remove the party from the ballot after invalidating nearly 80 signatures gathered through a petition process. A Green Party candidate could have siphoned votes from Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester in his race against Republican state Auditor Matt Rosendale.

To qualify, the Green Party needed to gather 5,000 signatures from at least 34 of the state House districts. But Montana Democrats argued that the Green Party gathered enough signatures from only 30 districts, citing such issues as who signed off on the petition forms as well as signatures that did not match what was on file for the voter.

In Monday’s order, Reynolds said he found signatures invalid for several reasons, from being submitted by a person who didn’t collect them to mismatched signatures and entries lacking the required information.

That left the Green Party without enough signatures in eight House districts.


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