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Wisconsin Supreme Court Denies Green Party Access To November Ballot

The Wisconsin Supreme Court denied the Green Party access to the November ballot yesterday, finding 4-3 that the Green Party waited too long to appeal. Justice Hagedorn joined Justices Dallet, Karofsky, and Ann Walsh Bradley to form the majority.

The Green Party submitted nomination papers to get on the Wisconsin presidential ballot on August 3rd. However, a challenge to the 2,046 signatures brought to light that some listed the wrong address for Green Party vice presidential nominee, Angela Walker, who moved while the Green Party collected signatures to get on the ballot. The Wisconsin Election Commission invalidated the signatures, resulting in the Green Party falling short of the necessary numbers to get on the November ballot.

The Green Party petitioned for leave to file an original action before the Wisconsin Supreme Court contesting the Commission’s decision to deny them access to the ballot, which the court accepted. On Thursday, the court issued an order preventing municipal clerks from mailing out absentee ballots until it made its decision.

However, Monday the court lifted its hold and stated:

[I]t is too late to grant petitioners any form of relief that would be feasible and that would not cause confusion and undue damage to both the Wisconsin electors who want to vote and the other candidates in all of the various races on the general election ballot…

Even if we would ultimately determine that the petitioners’ claims are meritorious, given their delay in asserting their rights, we would be unable to provide meaningful relief without completely upsetting the election.

Chief Justice Roggensack, Justice Rebecca Grassl Bradley, and Justice Ziegler all wrote in dissent.

Justice Roggensack wrote: “It is important for the public to know that there are election laws that bear on [the challenged signatures], which the Commission refused to follow.” Her dissent went on to list undisputed facts about the challenge and the way the Commission violated proper procedure by not allowing the Green Party on the ballot, concluding:

This lawsuit is not about the Green Party sleeping on its rights. It is about the treatment that independent candidates from a small political party received from the Commission, who repeatedly refused to follow the law relative to nomination papers.

Justice Ziegler criticized the majority’s emphasis on the timing of the appeal, laying out the relevant law and stating:

Because the majority unilaterally imposes its selfdetermined and otherwise unknowable deadlines on the Green Party candidates to exclude them from the ballot——despite the law requiring otherwise——I dissent.

Finally, Justice Rebecca Grassl Bradley wrote a short dissent, comparing the decision to 1960s case and warning that the Supreme Court might very well step in:

America has witnessed such tactics in the past. History repeats itself, as Wisconsin’s highest court rewards rather than rebuffs such unlawful maneuvers. In 1968, Alabama state officials left black candidates off the November general election ballot, in response to some comparably concocted but meritless challenge. The United States Supreme Court ordered Alabama to hold a new election, with the excluded candidates appearing on the ballot. Ironically, the majority in this case adopts the mantra of the Wisconsin Elections Commission, caving to its fear mongering invocation of “chaos” should the court dare to right this wrong. The majority ignores the pandemonium that would ensue following its refusal to right this wrong, should the United States Supreme Court order Wisconsin to repeat the November election—next time in accordance with the law.