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Ballot Inclusion for Presidential Primary

By: WISCONSIN LAW JOURNAL STAFF//February 12, 2024//

Ballot Inclusion for Presidential Primary

By: WISCONSIN LAW JOURNAL STAFF//February 12, 2024//

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WI Court of Supreme Court

Case Name: Dean Phillips v. Wisconsin Elections Commission

Case No.: 2024AP000138-OA


Focus: Ballot Inclusion for Presidential Primary

Phillips, a U.S. representative from Minnesota and a declared Democratic presidential candidate, sought to be listed on Wisconsin’s ballot after being included in New Hampshire’s Democratic primary. However, the Selection Committee, without discussion, chose only to list Joseph Biden for the Democratic ballot, disregarding Phillips among other potential candidates. Phillips petitioned the court, arguing the Committee failed to properly exercise its discretion in excluding him based on his national media recognition.

Respondents argued against the court’s intervention, suggesting Phillips delayed seeking judicial relief and lacked standing as the statute provides a mechanism for candidates to petition for ballot inclusion via signatures. They also contended that mandamus was inappropriate as it would improperly substitute the court’s discretion for that of the Selection Committee.

The court, referencing the precedent set by McCarthy v. Elections Board, determined the Selection Committee failed to apply the statutory standard properly, thereby abusing its discretion. The court dismissed the respondents’ defenses, including laches and standing challenges, and directed that Phillips’ name be placed on the Democratic presidential preference ballot. This decision emphasizes the inclusionary intent of the law governing ballot placement and underscores the judiciary’s role in ensuring statutory standards are appropriately applied.

Mandamus relief granted

Decided 02/02/24

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