The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled against the state’s Green Party presidential candidates, preventing their names from being printed on the November general election ballots as they waited to long to file their complaint against the Wisconsin Election Commission.
The court ruled 4-3 against Howie Hawkins and Angela Walker who had sought temporary injunctive relief from the justices to put their names on the ballots after the state’s election commission denied their request on Aug. 20 due to thousands of signatures appearing on Walker’s nomination papers that listed her address incorrectly.
The justices said that the petition filed Sept. 3, two weeks after the commission made its decision to keep them off the ballot, was too late and that attempts to provide them with relief would cause problems for the election.
“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,” they wrote.
The court said municipal clerks have already sent out thousands of election ballots and to reprint them would not only be expensive and extremely time-consuming but that it would cause some counties and jurisdictions to miss statutory deadlines for delivering and sending ballots. The process of sending out a replacement ballot to homes that had previously received one would also create “a substantial possibility of confusion,” the justices said.
The ruling does not address the petitioner’s main grievance over whether the commission was correct to leave them off the ballot, stating even if their claims were proven meritorious, “given their delay in asserting their rights, we would be unable to provide meaningful relief without completely upsetting the election.”
The Green Party denounced the court’s decision, accusing the court of failing to rule on the election commissions’ actions.
“Now we have a dangerous precedent where a major party can effectively decide which minor parties can participate in elections, by conjuring up arbitrary requirements on the fly to remove its opposition,” Andrea Merida, the Green Party campaign manager, said in a statement.
Hawkins called the decision “a travesty of justice.”
“We were screwed,” he said.
The court’s decision now paves the way for municipalities to again mail out ballots after it had halted the process on Thursday to allow them to contemplate their decision.
On its website, the Wisconsin Elections Commission told municipalities to re-start sending ballots out.
“Today’s decision means that municipal and county clerks should proceed with preparing, printing and sending absentee ballots in accordance with both federal law and Wisconsin state law,” the commission said. “That ballot has not changed, the candidates and ballot order certified by the Commission on September 1 stands.”
Of the 3.4 million active registered voters in the state, more than 1 million have requested absentee ballots, according to the commission.
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