By Associated Press - Friday, August 21, 2020

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - Montana’s 2020 general election ballot has been certified without Green Party candidates, for now.

Secretary of State Corey Stapleton’s certification, sent to counties late Thursday, includes an asterisk. It says the secretary and other parties are challenging a Montana Supreme Court decision affirming a lower court ruling that removed Green Party candidates from the ballot.

The certification says if the U.S. Supreme Court agrees to consider the case and stays the Montana Supreme Court order before the ballots are printed and mailed, the secretary will be allowed to include the Green Party candidates on the ballot.

Stapleton, a Republican, announced the appeal Thursday, saying the Green Party’s removal was aimed at eliminating political competition for Democrats.

The Montana Republican Party paid $100,000 to gather signatures to get the Green Party on the ballot. The backing wasn’t revealed until after the Green Party qualified for the primary ballot.

More than 560 people who signed the Green Party qualification petition then asked to have their names removed.

Stapleton rejected those requests, saying they were filed after a deadline. District Judge James Reynolds granted the signature removal requests, saying there was no such deadline in state law. The Montana Supreme Court upheld Reynolds’ ruling Wednesday.

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