State election officials asked a judge Tuesday to throw out a lawsuit over the design of the Nov. 4 ballots, saying the campaigns of two Republican lawmakers did not follow proper procedures in bringing their court challenge. Even if the case is allowed to proceed, the election officials argued, the judge can consider changing the ballots in just four places — Racine, Walworth, Columbia and Jefferson counties. Those who brought the suit can’t argue over the ballots in the state’s 68 other counties because they either don’t represent them or the ballots in those counties don’t include the features that are the subject of their suit, they said. The filing came a day before Waukesha County Circuit Judge James Kieffer is to hold a hearing to consider whether to order election officials to make changes to the ballots six weeks before the election. The campaigns of Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) last week filed their suit contending ballots designed by the state Government Accountability Board are confusing. Ballots’ formats vary by county, but if successful, the suit could result in ballots in some areas being redesigned and reprinted.
The two legislative leaders contend there is not enough separation between the offices being sought and the name of the first candidate for each race. They also argue a lack of shading and lines makes it difficult to tell where one race ends and the next begins on the ballot. Overall, the design of the ballots could lead to some voters thinking there is only one candidate in some races and could result in some voters missing entire races.
The accountability board, which oversees elections in Wisconsin, is being represented by the office of GOP Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen.
Those lawyers argued state law requires challenges to the design of ballots to be made first with the accountability board or a district attorney. Because Vos and Fitzgerald never filed such a complaint, the court can’t consider their lawsuit, Assistant Attorneys General Christopher Blythe and Thomas Bellavia argued in their filing.