State GOP Sues Elections Board Over New Ballots

Republican Leaders Contend That New Design Will Confuse Voters

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, along with Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, filed the lawsuit in Waukesha County. Photo courtesy of Wisconsin State Legislature.

The state Republican Party has filed a lawsuit against Wisconsin’s elections agency, saying new ballots the agency has designed will confuse voters.

The GOP lawsuit filed in Republican-friendly Waukesha County seeks to stop the Government Accountability Board from issuing the new ballots this election cycle. Under Wisconsin rules, Democratic Party candidates are listed first on the ballot this year because their party won the presidential race in the last election. The GOP lawsuit contends the new ballots don’t include a demarcation between those Democratic candidates and the office they’re seeking.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, one of the plaintiffs in the case, says that creates a problem.

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“I think the assumption would almost be by the voter that somehow that’s the incumbent or somehow that the ballot is limited to just one candidate for that office. So it’s definitely confusing,” he said.

Republicans say there should have been more public input on this change earlier in the election cycle, and they contend the only option now is for a court to stop it.

Asked about the Republican concerns yesterday before the lawsuit was filed, Government Accountability Board Director Kevin Kennedy said there are often complaints about the way names appear on ballots, but he rejected the suggestion that these ballots were drawn to benefit Democrats.

“On one level, the fact that someone’s raising a question is not unusual,” said Kennedy. “The fact that someone would attribute any partisan motivation to the staff at the GAB is where I would use the term that it’s absurd.”

Kennedy said most of the ballots have already been printed, and reprinting them would come at a great expense to the taxpayer.

“There’s always thought given to redesigning or making changes, but at some point, you have to draw the line. That line was drawn a while back,” he said.

Kennedy said changing the ballot now is neither practical nor necessary.