With printing of ballots for the November election already underway, the Green Party today asked the state Supreme Court to add its presidential candidate after the Elections Commission deadlocked on whether his campaign had turned in enough valid signatures.
Meanwhile, Kanye West’s campaign was in federal court seeking a temporary injunction to halt printing of the ballots as a judge noted it may already be too late for such a request.
Today’s filing from the Green Party asks the state Supreme Court, with its 4-3 conservative majority, to take original jurisdiction. The suit, coming two weeks after the Elections Commission deadlocked on adding Howie Hawkins to the presidential ballot, seeks an injunction directing the agency to include the Green candidate until the case is resolved. As an alternative, it asks the court to temporarily suspend the commission’s certification of the ballot, or tailor an order that would temporarily enjoin printing ballots.
It comes with a state deadline of Sept. 16 looming for county clerks to deliver ballots to their local counterparts so they can be mailed Sept. 17 to voters with a valid absentee ballot request on file.
“[T]ime is of the essence; county clerks are starting to print ballots,” the party argued in asking the court to take the case. “There is no other venue to which the Candidates could or should go to obtain final resolution of this issue in time to be placed on the ballot.”
To expedite the process, the party asked the court to require the commission to file a response by noon Tuesday with the opportunity to respond the next day.
An Elections Commission spokesman declined comment on the pending litigation.
The Green Party originally turned in 3,737 signatures with 2,000 needed to qualify for the ballot. But they were challenged because the documents filed with the Elections Commission listed two different addresses for vice presidential candidate Angela Walker, who moved during the window that nomination papers were circulated.
The commission advised the party to file an amended declaration of candidacy to reflect the new address and take other steps to ensure the nomination papers met state requirements. But the party did neither. It also didn’t respond to a challenge to the nomination papers that cited the issues with Walker’s address.
Ultimately, the commission certified 1,789 signatures, but noted it deadlocked on the validity of another 1,834 due to insufficient evidence on where Walker lived at the time those papers were circulated.
In today’s filing, the party argued it was given confusing advice by Elections Commission staff that left it under the impression it could resolve the questions about Walker’s address through filing a response to the complaint, by participating in a hearing on the challenge or both. The party didn’t believe it was required to file a formal response to the complaint ahead of the hearing.
The suit also argues that there is a presumption of validity with nomination papers. Because the commission — split evenly between Dem and GOP appointments — deadlocked 3-3 on the 1,834 signatures, they should be treated as valid, the suit argues.
Following the Aug. 20 hearing on the papers, commissioners said a minimum 4-2 was needed to put a candidate on the ballot.
Separately, U.S. Judge William Griesbach had a hearing today to weigh a request from West’s campaign to sends its lawsuit to get on the presidential ballot back to a Brown County Circuit Court. The state DOJ took steps to move the case to federal court, and Griesbach said he anticipated ruling soon on whether he has jurisdiction in the case. He also set a noon Saturday deadline for the state to respond to West’s request for a temporary restraining order to halt the printing of ballots.
See more on that hearing in today’s PM Update.