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The Wisconsin Supreme Court issued an order on Thursday to the state elections commission, directing it not to send the presidential primary ballot to county clerks.
This decision was made while the court was considering the request of Democratic U.S. Representative Dean Phillips to be added as a presidential candidate. Phillips filed his request six days earlier after he was not included in the presidential selection committee by state Democratic leaders.
President Joe Biden is the only Democrat on the ballot for the April 2 election. The court has not yet decided on the matter but is currently reviewing arguments from Phillips, the elections commission, and the presidential selection committee.
“Attorneys from the state Department of Justice representing the elections commission and the presidential selection committee said in court filings Wednesday that Philllips’ challenge should be rejected because he brought it too late,” the Associated Press reported.
Attorneys stated that county clerks must begin drafting and distributing ballots to military and overseas voters as soon as possible to meet the Feb. 15 deadline.
They asked the court to reject Phillips’ lawsuit by Friday, saying that “it will become increasingly difficult each day for the clerks to feasibly get the ballots ready, delivered, and mailed on time.”
Phillips, a representative from neighboring Minnesota, is attempting a long-shot primary bid to challenge Biden as the only Democrat in elected office.
He filed a lawsuit claiming that the Wisconsin Presidential Preference Selection Committee, which consists of leaders from both Republican and Democratic parties, illegally disregarded his request to appear on the ballot, along with the Wisconsin Election Commission.
The committee placed Biden, former President Donald Trump, and five other Republican challengers, including four who are no longer campaigning, on the ballot.
In a joint response to the Supreme Court on Wednesday, the Wisconsin Elections Commission and the bipartisan presidential selection committee that failed to submit Phillips’ name in time argued that he waited too long.
“Since Jan. 2, Phillips know that his name had not been included as a candidate, but he didn’t start a petition drive to get on the ballot as the law allows or file a lawsuit until Jan. 26, the filing noted. The elections commission and presidential selection committee said that ballots must be mailed to military and overseas voters no later than Feb. 15 and to meet that deadline, county clerks need to begin drafting and distributing ballots ‘as soon as possible,’” the AP noted.
“They asked the court to reject Phillips’ lawsuit by Friday because after that it will become increasingly difficult each day for the clerks to feasibly get the ballots ready, delivered, and mailed on time. The joint group said that Phillips’ arguments should be dismissed because he had a recourse to gather 8,000 signatures to get on the ballot but didn’t. They also argued that Phillips has no standing to bring the challenge because the presidential selection committee has the sole discretion to decide who gets on the ballot,” the outlet added.
“Phillips did nothing until the eleventh hour,” they said in their response filed with the court.
“As we fight Trump’s attacks on democracy we must also be vigilant against efforts by people in our own Party to do the same,” Phillips said in a statement earlier this week. “Voters should choose the nominee of our Party without insiders trying to rig the process for Joe Biden.”
As a write-in candidate, Biden easily prevailed in last week’s New Hampshire primary, with Phillips receiving just 20% of the vote.
In other states, Phillips has received certification to appear on the primary ballot.