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All Candidates for Spring Elections Granted Ballot Access

By John Forester | January 13, 2021

From WisPolitics.com …

All candidates who submitted nomination papers to run in the state’s April election and the special election for the 89th Assembly District have been granted ballot access after state elections commissioners deadlocked on the sole challenge they took up.

Commissioners Bob Spindell, Mark Thomsen and Chair Ann Jacobs voted against sustaining the challenge, marking the first time the trio have voted as a block. Spindell, a GOP appointee, and Thomsen and Jacobs, both Dems, frequently butted heads in the leadup to last year’s election.

The 3-3 deadlock meant state Superintendent of Public Instruction candidate Deb Kerr’s challenge to fellow candidate Shandowlyon Hendricks-Williams’ nomination papers was not sustained. Hendricks-Williams was later granted ballot access on a unanimous vote along with all other candidates.

The challenge from Kerr alleged none of the signatures gathered by Hendricks-Williams were valid because her nomination papers feature her title of “Dr.” which is prohibited by state law.

But Hendricks-Williams’ attorney argued the nomination forms were completely correct outside of that issue and thus fell within the “substantial compliance” language laid out in statute. Attorney Stacie Rosenzweig also noted Hendricks-Williams’ campaign had run its nomination papers, with the “Dr.” included, by the commission’s staff for approval and the issue had not been flagged.

Under the commission’s administrative code, the onus is still on the candidate to file papers that comply with requirements even if they have been reviewed by the commission. Still, Assistant Administrator Richard Rydecki said the staff should have flagged the issue.

Spindell, Thomsen and Jacobs sided with Rosenzweig in arguing the nomination papers met the substantial compliance provision and said the commission should err on the side of granting ballot access. Jacobs also said after the title on Hendricks-Williams’ papers was not flagged as an issue by staff, commissioners should “honor the work that we do.”

“I think we have to be honest with candidates when we mess up and recognize that we owe them in some regard a duty of good faith and fair dealing and we failed here,” she said.

Meanwhile, Republican Dean Knudson argued it was “beyond dispute” that titles cannot be included on nomination papers. Both of the commission’s clerk appointees, Republican Marge Bostelmann and Dem Julie Glancey, sided with Knudson.

Glancey added she was worried allowing Hendricks-Williams’ nomination papers would set a bad precedent for the future as staff indicated last night’s meeting was the first time the commission was hearing a challenge on the issue.

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