How the Wisconsin Elections Commission Illegally Disenfranchised the Green Party

Dan O’Donnell breaks down the Supreme Court’s shocking ruling upholding a thoroughly unlawful order by the Wisconsin Elections Commission

September 16, 2020

Guest perspective by Dan O’Donnell

Voter disenfranchisement is, according to Democrats, the single greatest threat to American democracy, save for perhaps the Russians.  Everyone, Democrats righteously scream, must have access to the ballot…except, of course, for anyone who might threaten Democrats’ chances at victory.

To this day, Democrats blame uber-liberal Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein for siphoning just enough votes from Hillary Clinton to hand the White House to Donald Trump in 2016.  They weren’t about to let the same thing happen again this November, so they have spent the past month working to keep the Green Party off the ballot altogether.

Disgustingly, the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) has helped them do it.

To gain access to the presidential ballot in Wisconsin, a candidate must obtain 2,000 valid signatures on a nominating petition.  In early August, the Green Party’s presidential candidate Howie Hawkins and vice presidential candidate Angela Walker submitted 3,966 signatures to be verified.

Three days later, WEC received a verified complaint from retired trial lawyer and longtime Democratic Party donor Allen Arntsen alleging that Walker listed an incorrect address on the Party’s nominating petition.

Arntsen, however, admitted that he did not know for certain whether Walker—who had moved during the gathering of nominating signatures—listed an incorrect address.  Instead, he based his complaint merely on “information and belief.”

This, of course, means that he could not prove that Walker’s address was incorrect and that the 2,046 signatures on the petitions that listed this address should be invalidated.  He simply believed this to be true.

In a WEC meeting on the matter on August 20th, Chairwoman Ann Jacobs refused to allow the Green Party’s attorney to present any evidence that Walker did indeed move during the signature gathering and that the nominating petitions were accurate.

Instead, she merely called for a vote, during which the WEC’s six members rejected 48 signatures and validated 57 others on petitions that included Walker’s new address.  Members then deadlocked on whether or not to strike down the 1,834 signatures that appeared on petitions that listed Walker’s old address.  The Commission’s three Democrat-appointed members voted to strike the names while its three Republican-appointed members voted to validate them.

Because of the deadlock, the signatures were not validated and the WEC ruled that Hawkins and Walker only had 1,789 valid signatures; 211 shy of the minimum for ballot access.  The Green Party would not be allowed on the presidential ballot.

This ruling, though, violated state law.  Section 2.07(3)(a) of the Wisconsin Administrative Code provides that “the burden is on the challenger to establish any insufficiency” in nominating signatures.  That places the burden on Arntsen to prove that Walker’s address was incorrect; not on Walker to prove that her address was correct.  Arntsen couldn’t prove that the address was incorrect, however—he based his complaint on “information and belief” and not firsthand knowledge.

The WEC never forced him to prove his claim and even unlawfully shifted the burden onto Walker to prove that her signatures were valid.  Since Section 2.05(4) provides that “any information which appears on a nomination paper is entitled to a presumption of validity,” the Commission was legally required to presume that Walker’s address was correct unless Arntsen could prove that it was not.

Since he could not, the Elections Commission acted unlawfully when it refused to validate 1,834 signatures that it should have presumed to be valid.  Had the WEC obeyed state law, the Green Party would have had more than enough valid signatures and Hawkins and Walker would have been on the ballot.

Because of a rogue WEC, they’re not, and in this week’s head-scratching decision from the Wisconsin Supreme Court, the Commission’s decision is final.  The Court’s three liberals and the ostensibly conservative Brian Hagedorn ignored the fact that the WEC violated the law and instead based its ruling on the fact that it’s simply too close to the election to reprint ballots with the Green Party on them.

Had the majority bothered to take up the real issue in this case—the rampant lawlessness with which the WEC operates—the outcome of the case would undoubtedly have been different and the 31,072 Wisconsinites who voted Green in 2016 might have been able to do so again.

That, however, couldn’t be allowed because it might harm the Democratic Party.  While it is underhanded and nauseatingly hypocritical for Democrats to work so tirelessly to essentially disenfranchise an entire political party, it is an absolute scandal that the Wisconsin Elections Commission broke the law to help them.