Election officials in Wisconsin ask state Supreme Court to deny Phillips’ bid for ballot access

Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips has filed a lawsuit in response to being omitted from Wisconsin’s primary ballot. However, both the state elections commission and a special bipartisan panel have argued that his lawsuit was filed too late. As a result, they are urging the state Supreme Court to dismiss his case.

Last week, Phillips filed a request with the Wisconsin Supreme Court, urging them to include his name on the primary ballot. The state’s top Democrats had only listed President Joe Biden’s name on the ballot, excluding Phillips from the battleground state’s primary election on April 2.

The Supreme Court received a joint response on Wednesday from the bipartisan presidential selection committee and the Wisconsin Elections Commission, stating that Phillips had waited too long for his name to be forwarded on time.

In their court response, they criticized Phillips for his lack of action until the last minute.

Phillips became aware on January 2nd that his name was not included as a candidate. However, he did not take immediate action by starting a petition drive or filing a lawsuit, as permitted by the law. It wasn’t until January 26th that he decided to initiate the process.

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The elections commission and presidential selection committee have emphasized the importance of mailing ballots to military and overseas voters by February 15. To meet this deadline, county clerks are urged to begin drafting and distributing ballots as early as possible.

The court was urged to dismiss Phillips’ lawsuit by Friday, as it would progressively become more challenging for the clerks to effectively prepare, deliver, and mail the ballots on time.

The joint group dismissed Phillips’ arguments, stating that he failed to gather the required 8,000 signatures to qualify for the ballot. They further contended that Phillips lacks standing to bring the challenge, as the presidential selection committee holds the exclusive authority to determine who can be included on the ballot.

According to their argument, the court has no role in deciding who should have been placed on the ballot due to the committee’s sole discretion.

Representing neighboring Minnesota in Congress, Phillips is undertaking a challenging endeavor to defeat Biden in a longshot bid. Notably, he stands alone as the sole Democrat in elected office who is daring to challenge the current president.

Phillips is filing a lawsuit claiming that his request to be included on the ballot was unlawfully disregarded by the Wisconsin Presidential Preference Selection Committee. This committee, made up of both Republican and Democratic leaders responsible for nominating candidates for the ballot, along with the Wisconsin Election Commission, are the defendants in his case.

According to Phillips, he fulfilled the criteria set by Wisconsin law for obtaining ballot access, which states that a candidate must be “generally advocated or recognized in the national news media.”

The committee included Biden, former President Donald Trump, and five other Republican challengers, including four who have since stopped campaigning, on the ballot.

In the past, the Wisconsin Elections Commission has typically relied on recommendations from party leaders that are put forth through the presidential selection committee.

Phillips remained tight-lipped on Wednesday regarding the reaction to his lawsuit.

“In a statement released on Monday, Phillips emphasized the importance of not only combating Trump’s assaults on democracy but also remaining watchful of individuals within our own Party who may be engaging in similar actions. He expressed the need for voters to have the freedom to select the nominee of our Party without any internal influences attempting to manipulate the process in favor of Joe Biden.”

In last week’s New Hampshire primary, Biden emerged as the clear winner, receiving a significant number of write-in votes. Phillips, on the other hand, secured around 20% of the vote and has been officially approved to be listed on the primary ballot in various other states.

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