The Wisconsin Supreme Court decided on Monday it would keep the Green Party’s presidential ticket off the ballot as clerks around the state prepare to send absentee ballots to over a million voters.
Following a 4-3 ruling, the court said the Green Party’s request to be included on Wisconsin’s ballot fell too late in the election cycle. Conservative Justice Brian Hagerdorn broke party lines to give liberal Justices Ann Walsh Bradley, Rebecca Dallet and Jill Karofsky a majority.
Conservative Justices Rebecca Bradley and Annette Ziegler and Chief Justice Patience Roggensack dissented.
“We conclude that the petitioners delayed in seeking relief in a situation with very short deadlines and that under the circumstances, including the fact that the 2020 fall general election has essentially begun, it 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,” the court’s opinion stated.
During an Aug. 20 meeting, the Wisconsin Elections Commission split 3-3 over whether to put Green Party presidential candidate Howie Hawkins on the state’s ballot. While the Republican commissioners supported the inclusion of Hawkins on the ticket, Democratic members of the commission objected due to a complaint against his running mate, Milwaukee native Angela Walker, who listed two addresses on her campaign paperwork, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Walker said she used multiple addresses because she moved when the Green Party began collecting signatures needed to acquire a spot on the ballot. However, by listing two addresses, she fell short of the required amount.
Democrats on the Commission would not consider “hearsay evidence” regarding Walker’s address change during the nomination process, whereas Republicans argued she clearly moved and deserved to be on the ballot, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.
“This lawsuit is not about the Green Party sleeping on its rights,” Justice Roggensack said in a dissenting opinion. “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.”
After Hawkins and Walker asked the Supreme Court to include them on the ballot, the court ruled last week that ordered election officials to refrain from sending out absentee ballots as the case was being considered.
Monday’s decision cleared the path for municipal clerks to adhere to a state statute that requires them to send absentee ballots to voters who requested them by Thursday and Saturday to military and overseas personnel.
“I’m just glad that they made a decision today and recognized the expediency that election administrators and voters need, that they didn’t delay any further,” Claire Woodall-Vogg, executive director of the Milwaukee Election Commission, told the Journal Sentinel.
The case carried significant implications for November’s elections. In a state that incumbent President Donald Trump won by less than 23,000 votes in 2016, both parties believed Hawkins could have siphoned votes from Democratic challenger Joe Biden.
2016 Green Party candidate Jill Stein accrued 31,000 Wisconsin votes in the last general election.
Similarly, the rapper Kanye West also filed a separate lawsuit in an attempt to be included on the ballot. A Brown County judge rejected his case Friday after determining West turned in his nominating signatures too late.
West claimed the deadline to turn in his nomination signatures did not expire until 5:01 p.m., and that commission staffers still accepted his forms. However, the commission declared in a vote he missed the cutoff “by a few seconds or several minutes,” according to the State Journal.
West may appeal to the Wisconsin State Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court.