Wisconsin Supremes Block Green Party Ballot Access
A potentially catastrophic delay has been averted.
Last week, the Republicans on Wisconsin’s supreme court threatened to put absentee voting in jeopardy by halting the mailing of ballots until they could rule on the Green Party’s petition for inclusion. Yesterday, they ruled against said petition, allowing the mailings to proceed.
WaPo (“Wisconsin Supreme Court rules Green Party presidential ticket is ineligible for state ballot“):
The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled Monday that the Green Party presidential ticket is ineligible to appear on the state ballot, a relief for state and local election officials who feared an addition at this late date would upend election preparations.
The decision comes after the Wisconsin Elections Commission declined on Aug. 20 to put presidential contender Howie Hawkins and his Green Party running mate, Angela Walker, on the Nov. 3 ballot because their signature petitions featured two different addresses for Walker.
State election officials had argued that the campaign failed to fix the discrepancy according to state requirements.
The state Supreme Court is controlled by a 4-to-3 conservative majority that has regularly ruled in favor of Republican interests over the past decade, notably in 2014, when it upheld a law ending collective bargaining for teachers that was championed by then-Gov. Scott Walker (R).
In its 4-to-3 ruling, with one conservative, Brian Hagedorn, voting with the majority, the court said that upending the election was one reason it denied the Green Party’s appeal.
“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,” the opinion states.
In a state that Donald Trump won by just under 23,000 votes four years ago — less than a percentage point — a third-party candidate could attract a difference-making number of votes. In 2016, Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein won more than 30,000 votes in Wisconsin.
Bob Spindell, a Republican member of the Wisconsin Elections Commission who voted to allow the Green Party on the ballot, said in an interview Monday that partisan leanings influenced the actions of many of those involved in both the Green Party and the West cases.
“To be truthful with you, the Republicans wanted West to be on the ballot, and Republicans wanted the Green Party to be on the ballot,” Spindell said. “Democrats did not want the West or Green Party tickets to be on the ballot.”
Hawkins suggested in an interview last week that Trump supporters had helped the Green Party ticket with its legal claim before the state Supreme Court. The party’s petition was filed by attorneys from the Milwaukee-based von Briesen & Roper law firm, which has a history of representing Wisconsin Republicans. Spindell said it was he who recommended von Briesen & Roper to the Green Party.
The outcome is obviously the correct one but it’s rather odd to make it on the basis of expediency. Either the Green Party met the legal standard to qualify for the ballot or it did not. Either the Green Party filed their petition for relief on time or it did not.
Regardless, the weirdness of a system where multiple parties are potentially allowed on the ballot but only two have a reasonable possibility of winning is manifest here. The Republicans are supporting a party at extreme ideological discord while the Democrats are fighting one much closer to their belief system because of the disparate impact of their appearance on the ballot. That’s a system ripe for mischief.