HELENA — A magistrate judge has denied Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton's request to throw out a ballot-access lawsuit by the Montana Green Party and its supporters.
U.S. Magistrate Judge John Johnston rejected Stapleton's motion to dismiss and ordered a December bench trial in the case after a court hearing on Tuesday.
The Green Party alleges that Montana's qualification requirements for minor political parties are unconstitutionally burdensome.
The lawsuit was filed after a state judge last year removed the Green Party from the 2018 election ballot. More than double the required 5,000 voters signed a petition to put the party on the ballot, but the party fell short of gathering valid signatures from at least 38 state House Districts.
Green Party officials are seeking to strike down Montana's minor party qualification requirements and place them on the ballot.