Wisconsin Supreme Court Blows Up Absentee Voting

Everything was running according to plan in Wisconsin. The state’s 72 county clerks print the ballots, mail them to voters, collect election results, and coordinate their canvassing boards, while 1,850 municipal clerks at the city, village, or township level operate the polling places and handle absentee ballots. The state had prepared for the national election after a tumultuous April election.

This last Thursday September 11th, Wisconsin was all set to have a smooth national election. The state’s 1,850 municipal clerks had printed at least 2.3 million absentee ballots in preparation of another surge in absentee voting (which occurred earlier this year – April) and had already mailed 378,482 of them. They were under way and would to meet the Sept. 17 deadline established by state law when ballots had to be mailed. A deadline by which the SCOTUS had mandated

A little history, this April, the municipal clerks were crushed by a last-minute surge of requests for absentee ballots  from residents who decided to vote by such due to a fear of the Covid pandemic. The resulting delays from not having enough ballots led to ballots being mailed later to voters and a delayed vote, with ballots being received after the state deadline.

On April 6th, SCOTUS in a 5-4 vote with the majority decision authored by Justice Kavanaugh “approved one of the most brazen acts of voter suppression in modern history. The court will nullify the votes of citizens who mailed in their ballots late—not because they forgot, but because they did not receive ballots until after Election Day due to the coronavirus pandemic.

As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in dissent, the court’s order “will result in massive disenfranchisement.” The conservative majority claimed that its decision would help protect “the integrity of the election process.” In reality, it calls into question the legitimacy of the election itself.”

State officials had learned their lesson, planned far ahead to have enough ballots available, and set the stage for the prompt and orderly mailing of millions of ballots to give voters enough lead time to vote on time.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has already begun to sabotage the election/absentee voting with the latest issues involving Green Party candidates Howie Hawkins and Angela Walker. Applications to be on the ballot involves applicants (in this case Howie Hawkins and Angela Walker) to submit 2,000 valid signatures each. The paperwork filed by the two applicants had a problem as many of the signature sheets included an address of a motel in South Carolina differing from the one Angela Walker filed in her sworn declaration of candidacy.

Once discovered, Angela Walker “had” an opportunity to explain this discrepancy, “declined” and or failed to do so, and in accordance with state law; the Wisconsin Elections Commission in a tie-vote rejected the signatures collected under the wrong address. Walker was left with fewer than the required 2,000 signatures and the commission on August 20th declined to place the Green Party ticket on the ballot. Two weeks later on September 3rd petitioned the Wisconsin Supreme Court to place their names onto the ballot anyway. During this period clerks printed and began mailing ballots.

Wisconsin Green Party co-Chair Barbara Dahlgren expressed frustration with the process of getting on the state ballot, which was complicated by the difficulty of collecting signatures during a pandemic. She noted that the Elections Commission staff decision was based on a technicality. As an all-volunteer organization with limited resources, Dahlgren said the Wisconsin Green Party responded as quickly as it could. Dahlgren’s comment:

“We would like for the Supreme Court to rule on this quickly because to us it’s plain as day that we should be on the ballot,”

Interesting, this is not the Green Party’s first rodeo. The Green Party did not review their petition before the submission, did not file a timely statement explaining the different addresses on Ms. Hawkins petition after the Commission decided, failed to file a timely petition to a well known notoriously partisan  the court so as to the   .  .  .  cough, cough,  de  .   .   .  cough  .   .   .  lay or cause the  halt of the mailing of absentee ballots early on in the process.  And no they did not receive aid from the other another cough . . . par . . cough . . . ty cough in delaying the process? I am sure the Republicans were more than happy to disrupt the absentee ballot process which they did. Amazing.

On a Thursday, September 10th in the afternoon, by a 4–3 divided along partisan lines, the court issued its order which will throw the election into chaos. The conservative majority court directed the Wisconsin Elections Commission to turn over a massive amount of information, halted the mailing of more absentee ballots while they consider nullifying every ballot that has been printed or mailed, and forces the state to start over. The stunning eleventh-hour intervention will force election officials into an impossible position to: comply with the court’s order and not violate both state and federal law.

So, the fight against trump and Republicans begins   .   .   . 

Meanwhile Kanye West is waiting for the Wisconsin Supreme Court to rule on whether he can be on the ballot after a Brown County Circuit Court judge ruled Friday (September 11th) West does not qualify for the ballot which upholds the commission’s 5-1 (two Republicans agreed with Dems) vote to bar West because his campaign submitted petitions after the 5 PM deadline August 4. West’s campaign missed the deadline by seconds.  Deliberate? Petitions were filed by attorney Lane Ruhland who formerly served as the Wisconsin Republican Party legal counsel and recently represented the Trump campaign in its lawsuit against a television station for running an advertisement the Trump campaign considered “false and defamatory.”

In the end and if this late filing was due to unpredictable delay, Mr. Ruhland should know better as an experienced and well regarded attorney then to wait so long.

“The Wisconsin Supreme Court Has Already Begun to Sabotage Absentee Voting,” Slate Jurisprudence, Mark Joseph Stern, September 11, 2020

“Wisconsin Supreme Court Upends Mailing of Absentee Ballots,” Who.What.Why., Darla Dernovsek, September 13, 2020