Wisconsin Greens denounce Democratic Party's voter suppression campaign

This July, a courageous band of Wisconsin Green Party supporters braved the risk of contracting COVID-19 to get our presidential ticket of Howie Hawkins and Angela Walker on the ballot. We turned in 3,966 signatures of Wisconsinites who supported putting a Green choice on the ballot, almost double the minimum requirement. 

On Monday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld a concerted effort by Democratic Party operatives to overturn the will of those Wisconsin voters, and the hard work of those volunteers.

After trampling our rights, the Democrats are trying to cover the shame of this blatant voter suppression by vilifying the Green Party, aided and abetted by the corporate media.

We’re not lying down and we’re not giving up, but we need your help to fight back. 

If you support our long, hard fight for real democracy in the United States, please contribute now to support grassroots Green organizing and campaigns in 2021 and 2022, and sign up to volunteer to build the party for people, planet, and peace over profit!

So here’s what happened: 

We submitted 3,966 signatures of people who supported placing Howie Hawkins, a lifelong activist and union worker, and Angela Walker, a working-class Black woman from Milwaukee active in the Wisconsin Uprising, on the ballot for President and VP. The Wisconsin Election Commission (WEC) staff validated 3,737 signatures. 

The Democratic Party members of the WEC refused to accept the signatures of qualified, eligible voters we turned in. Why? Because of a minor technicality: Angela Walker moved in July and some of the petitions listed her previous address. The WEC upheld a challenge to those petitions from Democratic operatives, despite the fact that we communicated with them about Angela’s move and followed their complicated instructions.

Why should the fact that Angela moved from one apartment to another in the same town in South Carolina during the campaign disqualify not just her, but also Howie Hawkins, from running for national office? No one has been able to answer this basic, but crucial, question. The reality is that the Democratic Party kept the Green Party off the Wisconsin ballot using the type of maneuver the US media decries when deployed by authoritarian regimes in countries like Belarus.

The Supreme Court’s 4-3 decision was the last, successful barrier placed in front of the WIGP and Hawkins/Walker campaign, but the WEC made it harder than it should be, as the dissenters to this decision pointed out. The Supreme Court’s majority decision was not based on the merits of the case, but on their opinion that it was too late because county clerks had already started printing ballots in spite of the fact that the Hawkins/Walker campaign had a pending ballot access lawsuit.

Thus, the short period of confusion and delay in printing 2020 ballots was caused not by the Greens, but by the bureaucratic failures of the state and counties in the face of pending ballot access lawsuits.

Meanwhile, the same pundits who railed against the WIGP for supposedly delaying ballots have studiously avoided mentioning that the Democratic Party has delayed certification of the ballot in Pennsylvania with a lawsuit to - you guessed it - throw the Green Party off the ballot. Actually, they’re not all ignoring it - one Philadelphia media outlet is telling readers to blame the Green Party for the delay.

Finally, not content with throwing their political opposition off the ballot like the authoritarian rulers they decry in other countries, the Democrats are trying to invent a scandal out of the fact that a lawyer for the Hawkins/Walker suit has ties to Republicans. First of all, the Wisconsin Green Party was peripheral to the campaign’s lawsuit; WIGP members had nothing to do with hiring lawyers and had no communication with any Republicans regarding ballot access. 

Secondly, the Hawkins/Walker campaign worked hard to find a liberal or Democratic lawyer who would take their case against the Democrats’ voter suppression, but not a single one would. That echoes the WIGP’s fruitless attempts to find a liberal lawyer to sue the state for relief during the spring petitioning period, when the state was under a total lockdown and gathering signatures was a harrowing ordeal, particularly for grassroots candidates.

Since not a single Democrat-aligned lawyer in Wisconsin was willing to challenge voter suppression coming from their own party, the Democrats have no high ground to criticize the Hawkins/Walker campaign for accepting the legal counsel they could find. In fact, the campaign wasted precious time trying to find a liberal lawyer, a delay that ultimately helped the Democrats argue that it was too late for the Supreme Court to decide the case on its merits.

The irony is rich: after a Democratic National Convention loaded with Republicans from John Kasich to Michael Bloomberg, the Democrats are trying to concoct a scandal out of Howie Hawkins and Angela Walker turning to a Republican lawyer out of necessity.

The Republican and Democratic duopoly will always collaborate to keep political outsiders out. Despite their theatrical shows of opposition, the twin parties of war and Wall Street have long worked hand in glove to maintain a stranglehold on the political system for the corporate donor class that funds them both. This is one reason why almost half of eligible voters in the US don’t vote.

Polls show that the majority of people who vote Green wouldn't vote if Greens weren't on the ballot (see: "No, Jill Stein did not cost Hillary Clinton the White House."). Greens aren't the reason why Democrats lose. We give disenfranchised people a reason to vote. Democrats scapegoat and persecute us because they care more about power than democracy.

As Briahna Joy Gray, former press secretary for the Bernie Sanders 2020 campaign put it: “If you hate spoilers, support ranked choice voting. But corporate Dems don’t, because blaming the Green Party for Republican wins is how they keep Dem voters from realizing that Greens represent so-called “Democratic values” better than the Democratic party.”

The Green Party has long fought for voters’ rights, including the 2016 recount effort that brought unprecedented transparency to our flawed voting system and resulted in unreliable voting machines being decertified, with a comprehensive investigation of voting machine source code still pending in the courts. 

Wisconsin Greens will mount a vigorous write-in campaign for the Hawkins/Walker ticket over the next 49 days, with the goal to win at least one percent of the statewide presidential vote, the state’s threshold for ballot access. Reaching this goal will ensure that Wisconsin voters will have a pro-worker, pro-climate, pro-democracy alternative to the corrupt corporate duopoly.

We’ve faced a national smear campaign and an avalanche of hatred in the past few days, simply for standing up for the basic American right to vote for what we believe in.

Despite the haters, we’ll keep fighting for real democracy in the United States, for them too. We can’t wait to free them from the self-destructive cycle of fear-based voting, and with simple reforms used around the world like ranked-choice voting and proportional representation, empower us all to vote our hopes, not our fears.

We need you in this fight too. Please donate now to support grassroots Green organizing and campaigns in 2021 and 2022, and sign up to volunteer to build the party for real democracy.

Thank you for listening to our side of the story, and thank you to everyone who has shown solidarity, friendship, and kindness throughout this ordeal. People, planet, and peace will prevail.

Peace and solidarity,

The Wisconsin Green Party

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  • Rick London
    commented 2020-09-17 09:29:12 -0500
    Letter from an Independent Progressive:

    Dear Democratic Party of Wisconsin,

    Honestly, you might want to rethink your current campaign strategy. Your challenging the petitions of the Wisconsin Green Party was ridiculous. The Greens filed their petitions with more than enough valid signatures and with the required affidavit listing vice-presidential candidate Angela Walker’s new address, since she’d recently moved. The Greens had proof of all this in hand at the Wisconsin Elections Commission hearing where you made your challenge. But the Dems on the WEC would not allow the Greens a fair opportunity to present their testimony and document the validity of their petitions. The Commission, with a Dem chairing, then proceeded to uphold your challenge.

    At a time when you need to build a broad coalition, how is this not boneheaded? You’ve denied the Green Party and Angela Walker ballot access on the basis of a bogus—or just silly—objection. Walker, a hometown activist, is revered by many in the large Milwaukee progressive community and social justice movement. Now you’ve aroused the enmity of these engaged folks, many of whom already had more affinity with the Greens than they did with the Democrats. In doing so, you’ve hurt your own chances to build back the Obama coalition in your state.

    Worst case scenario for you is, because of this enmity, the Greens now get 40,000 write-in votes, instead of the 30,000 they might have received if their party name had been printed on the ballot. Many progressives who were going to vote for Biden, although they don’t exactly love him, now may not, because they’re offended by your treatment of the Greens. They know this is not a local attempt by you to maintain good election practices but is part of a nationally coordinated effort by the Democrats to disallow Green Party candidates ballot access, at all levels of government, everywhere they can, on whatever grounds you Dems can come up with. You may find out that the votes you imagine the Greens would “siphon” away from you were never yours to begin with—and that now you’re not in much of a position to earn them.

    And if you lose in November, no doubt you will blame the progressives who turned away from you—rather than your own bad judgement and questionable behavior. This time around, that loss would not just be the heartbreak it was in 2016, but a frightening disaster.