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In an election season that promises to take us to new lows, we should all be grateful that, at least in one case, the system worked and thwarted one of the dirtiest of tactics.

A pair of court actions this week upheld a lower court ruling that Green Party candidates would be stricken from the November ballot. The lower court ruling was prompted by requests from more than 500 voters who asked that their signatures be removed from the petition that qualified the candidates for the ballot.

They wanted their signatures removed after they found out Green Party officials had nothing to do with the signature-gathering effort. In fact, the campaign was funded by the Republican Party in a cynical effort to steal votes from Democratic candidates on the ballot.

When they asked to have their signatures removed, Secretary of State Corey Stapleton, a Republican, refused. But a state district court judge ordered the signatures removed. And that left the campaign with too few signatures to qualify for the ballot.

Stapleton appealed the district court ruling to the state Supreme Court, which upheld the lower court ruling. Likewise, a federal court judge refused to intervene in the case this week. Stapleton, true to his form of putting party before state, has pledged to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Montanans should be conditioned by now to expect to be flooded with dark money smear campaigns and other dirty tricks from both parties during elections for U.S. House and Senate seats. Senate seats in sparsely populated states like Montana are particularly attractive to out-of-state influences, which can saturate the media with advertising for relatively few dollars.

But the effort by the GOP to put phony Green Party candidates on the ballot was a particularly low stunt – a naked attempt to deceive petition signers into believing they were helping a cause they supported.

We are still more than 10 weeks away from election day. And we can expect a great deal more in the way of misleading and outright false messaging before we get there.

Let the plight of the deceived petition signees be a lesson to us all. Don’t be fooled by dirty campaign tactics. Get informed by real information sources and cast your vote wisely.

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Editorial Board

  • Mark Dobie, publisher
  • Nick Ehli, managing editor
  • Bill Wilke, opinion page editor
  • Richard Broome, community member
  • Renee Gavin, community member
  • Will Swearingen, community member
  • Angie Wasia, community member

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