Decision means millions of ballots already printed remain valid.
Green Party presidential candidate Howie Hawkins, who had the potential to siphon a fraction of votes from Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, will not be on ballots for the Nov. 3 General Election, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled late Monday afternoon.
Conservative Justice Brian Hagedorn provided the key swing vote in the 4-3 ruling, siding with the court’s liberal justices to prevent a mass reprint of millions of ballots already produced for local election clerks, and nearly 400,000 more already sent to voters.
The crux of the decision came down to Hawkins’ lawyers waiting two weeks to file a lawsuit after the Wisconsin Elections Commission initially denied him and vice presidential candidate Angela Walker ballot access in an Aug. 20 meeting. The Supreme Court’s four conservative justices last week enraged clerks and threw the Elections Commission into turmoil when the justices signaled they may order a reprint of millions of ballots to include Hawkins and Walker.
Such a decision would have almost certainly meant elections officials would violate both state and federal laws by missing Thursday’s mailing deadlines for general voters and Saturday’s deadline for military and overseas voters. Elections Commission Chairwoman Ann Jacobs told UpNorthNews a mandatory reprinting could be “catastrophic” to the electoral process.
“Under the circumstances presented here, it would be unfair both to Wisconsin voters and to the other candidates on the general election ballot to interfere in an election that, for all intents and purposes, has already begun,” the court’s decision reads.
Elections commissioners considered in August whether to include Hawkins and Walker on the ballot but ultimately kept the duo off because Walker listed an incorrect address on some papers, meaning the ticket fell short of the required signature count to appear on ballots.
Chief Justice Pat Roggensack—who in May said coronavirus restrictions were unnecessary because they weren’t affecting meatpacking workers, not “regular people”—wrote in the conservative dissent that the Elections Commission’s decision to keep the Green Party off the ballot “suppressed the rights of voters.”
Roggensack slammed the majority for not punishing commissioners’ “unlawful conduct.”
“The court’s silence not only affirms lawless conduct by the Commission, but also provides no directive for the required treatment of nomination papers in the future,” she wrote.
Conservative Justice Rebecca Bradley—who baselessly compared Gov. Tony Evers’ stay-home order to putting Japanese-American people in internment camps in World War II—wrote in dissent that blocking Hawkins and Walker from ballot access was akin to blocking Black candidates from ballots.
Despite the fact there is no indication the case will reach the US Supreme Court, Bradley in her dissent claimed the US Supreme Court may step in and force Wisconsin to hold another election because Hawkins and Walker will not be on the November ballot, as was done when Alabama elections officials unlawfully excluded Black candidates in 1968.