Rival Political Parties Team Up Against Little Guy
Across the United States there are high levels of frustration over the fighting between the two major political parties. A new campaign law regarding qualifying a political party to compete in primary elections passed the Montana Legislature.
In 2018, the “Montana Green Party” gathered signatures under the law and submitted those signatures to the Montana Secretary of State for ballot qualifying. The Montana Green Party needed to gather 5,000 signatures from at least 34 of the state House districts.
Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton’s office certified 7,386 signatures originally verified by election administrators in four counties. Stapleton originally defended the minor party signatures qualifying the Montana Green Party for the ballot.
In April of 2018, a lawsuit was filed against the Montana Green Party by the Montana Democratic Party, James Larson, former chairman of the party and Donald Judge, former executive secretary of the Montana AFL-CIO. The Republican Party later joined the Democratic Party challenging the Montana Green Party ballot access and the case went to court.
District Court Judge James Reynolds reviewed the complaint and ruled against the Montana Green Party in July of 2018. The rulling prevented the Montana Green Party Candidates access to the November Ballot.
In answer to the court ruling, the Montana Green Party filed action in federal court claiming violations of the Constitution and election laws of Montana.
While the case is still working its way through the court, many citizens openly claim that the two parties in control of the primary election process have joined together to inhibit competition.
Republican Senator Ankney introduced SB363 in a suspected act of retaliation against third party qualifying for the election. Both Democrats and Republicans worked together to pass this legislation that adds 8 new sections to current law, further inhibiting ballot access outside of the two party system.
SB363 will amend 13-1-101MCA and 13-37-121MCA providing for new reporting requirements for contributions and expenditures by certain individuals and committees. The new law will also provide for new penalties for violations of the law.
Even with a Republican majority in the House, they amended the legislation and it passed on the 16th of April with a 61 to 36 final vote. In the end, 35 conservative representatives voted against the bill.
Even with a Republican majority in the Senate, they rushed the bill through the process. The Senate concurred on the amended bill Thursday April 18th just before the Legislative Easter break with a 36 to 14 final vote. 14 conservative members of the Senate claim the new law violates the Constitutional Right to open and free elections, and voted NO!
The Montana Constitution is now at play with the passing of the new law. Article III Section 3 regarding the oath of office is in question as that is where public trust is founded. Article IV Sections 3 & 4 on elections provide the people the right to free and open elections. It is purported that the new law may be in conflict with the Montana Constitution.
The 66th Legislative Session is winding down with only a few more days left for business. With multiple bills still under review, the rights of the “Little Guy” are still on the table. Where will the political battle for control end?
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