HELENA – The Montana Green Party made a big move Monday to allow its candidates to run for office in Montana this year, submitting thousands of signatures to election officials to qualify for the ballot.
But it’s not clear whether the party will have enough signatures to qualify – or if the signatures can be verified before next Monday’s deadline for candidates to file to run for office in 2018.
Local election officials told MTN News that they’ll be scrambling to verify and submit the signatures to the secretary of state’s office, which must certify whether the Green Party qualifies and its candidates can file for state offices.
“We have seven days to verify,” said Bradley Seaman, elections supervisor for Missoula County. “We’ve got a big push.”
To qualify the ballot, the Green Party must submit the signatures of at least 5,000 registered voters statewide. That total also must include, in at least 34 state House districts, 150 voters or more than 5 percent of the number of voters in the district who cast votes for the winning gubernatorial candidate in 2016 – whichever is smaller.
Seaman said Green Party organizers submitted about 3,000 signatures to Missoula County on Monday. Lewis and Clark County election officials said Green Party organizers claimed 1,500 signatures there, and in Yellowstone County, election officials said 28 petitions were submitted – but they didn’t have a count on the signatures.
Sources told MTN News that Green Party organizers submitted numerous petitions with signatures in all of the most populous counties.
Montana Green Party officials did not return phone messages from MTN News Monday, and an organizer in Missoula hung up after saying he wouldn’t comment.
If the Green Party qualifies for the ballot on or before next Monday, its candidates can file by that day to run for any state or local office – including U.S. Senate, U.S. House and the Legislature.