This case underscores Wisconsin partisan politics that prevented Green Party candidates from appearing on the 2020 presidential ballot.
On August 4, 2020, Green Party candidates for President and Vice President (Howie Hawkins and Angela Walker) filed enough signed petitions to meet the 2,000 petition threshold required to appear on the Wisconsin presidential ballot. However, Angela Walker had moved during the signature-gathering process, causing a discrepancy in the address on some of the petitions. Due to this technicality, the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) was deadlocked as to the validity of the majority of signed petitions, causing the Green Party to fall short of the threshold by 211 signed petitions — despite one member’s insistence that more than 3,000 signatures were valid and no argument given to the contrary.
Petitioners Hawkins and Walker filed an original action in Wisconsin Supreme Court on September 3rd, 2020. The Court denied their request.
In its opinion, the Court agreed that this was wrong on the part of the WEC. However, since the ballots had already been printed and some already sent in for mail-in voting, there was nothing that they could do. Multiple justices dissented the opinion – saying that the Green Party candidate could have been placed on ballots not yet sent out. Additionally, Justice Roggensack scolded the WEC for their “lawless behavior,” quipping:
“The Commission ignored its legal obligations under [Wisconsin law], and in so doing it suppressed the rights of voters to choose Green Party candidates for President and Vice President. The court’s order is silent on the Commission’s unlawful conduct and imposes no consequences for what it has done.”
Finally, she chastised the court itself, ending her Scalia-spirited dissent, “Silently affirming lawless conduct that has been brought to the court’s attention is an abdication of the court’s obligation to stand with the law, even when doing so is uncomfortable.”
Why does this matter? Because Joe Biden’s slim margin of victory in this hotly contested state was only 0.6% (20,682 votes). In 2016, the Green Party candidate, Jill Stein, received 31,072 votes in Wisconsin. Since the Hawkins/Walker 2020 Green Party ticket was not on the ballot, it only received almost 1,100 write-in votes – 30,000 fewer than Jill Stein received. The Biden/Harris likely picked up a majority of the votes that would otherwise have gone to the Green Party.