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Montana politics, elections and legislative news.

Author Of Anti-Drug Initiative Seeks Court Order Over Disputed Signatures

Graphic: Montana Public Radio News, Politics

The backer of a proposed ballot measure to eliminate Montana’s medical marijuana program is seeking a court order to put the measure before voters this November.

Safe Montana fell 4,000 signatures shy of the 24,000 it needed to get I-176 on the ballot. I-176 would make all drugs illegal on the federal level also illegal in Montana.

Now, less than a week before ballots are printed, Safe Montana’s Steve Zabawa is asking a Flathead County judge to approve 2,500 signatures he claims the county lost. A hearing is set for Friday.

But Flathead County Clerk and Recorder Debbie Pierson says no signatures were lost.

"We just cannot credit petition signatures we have no proof of existence for."

Pierson says her office processed original petition signature pages received through June 17. Those pages were forwarded to the Secretary of State’s office by July 8.

Pierson’s office has encouraged Safe Montana to submit copies of the pages in dispute, to no avail.

Zabawa’s court action requests the judge accept the allegedly missing and wrongfully rejected signatures, or order Secretary of State Linda McCulloch to approve I-176 for the 2016 or 2018 ballot.

Zabawa claims that across all of Montana's 56 counties, another 3,500 signatures were wrongfully rejected.

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