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Wisconsin Court Halts Ballot Over Primary Dispute

Holland McKinnie
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On Thursday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court paused the transmission of presidential primary ballots to county clerks in the state. The order comes as part of an ongoing legal challenge brought by Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN). He is demanding to be included as a candidate in the Wisconsin Democratic presidential primary.

Coming just six days after Rep. Phillips appealed for ballot access, the court’s order underscores the high stakes in the critical battleground state. As things stand currently, Joe Biden is the only candidate who will appear on the primary ballot. That ballot has been approved by the Wisconsin Presidential Preference Selection Committee.

Phillips is the only Democrat in elected office mounting a primary challenge against Biden. His exclusion from the ballot by the state’s Democratic leaders raises significant concerns about fair play and the representation of diverse voices within the party.

The legal aspects of this case are intricate. The Wisconsin Elections Commission and the presidential selection committee, represented by the state Department of Justice, contend that Phillips’ challenge was brought too late. This argument is not just a legal technicality; it has practical implications. Ballots must be mailed to military and overseas voters by February 15. 

Phillips alleges that his request to be on the ballot was improperly ignored by the Wisconsin Presidential Preference Selection Committee, composed of Republican and Democratic leaders, and the Wisconsin Election Commission. The committee, which plays a critical role in shaping the ballot, had included President Biden and former President Donald Trump, alongside five other Republican challengers, some of whom have since withdrawn.

This legal battle reflects broader issues within our electoral system, especially regarding the representation and choice offered to voters. Phillips’ attempt to challenge an incumbent from his own party should be seen as a healthy sign of a functioning democracy — the very thing the Democrats have been recklessly bludgeoning the Republican Party and especially President Trump since at least 2016. 

The Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision to pause the ballot transmission is a responsible step, ensuring that all legal avenues are explored before finalizing a decision of such magnitude. As is true with any complex litigation, there is a danger of unintended consequences. Delays in finalizing the ballot could disrupt the electoral process, particularly for military and overseas voters relying on timely mailed absentee ballots.


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