Challenging nomination signatures not uncommon, but outcomes vary

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MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Challenging candidate nomination papers are not uncommon in the battleground state, but determining who can remain on the ballot often results with state election officials unable to reach a decision.

On Friday, the bipartisan state elections commission, composed of three Democrats and three Republicans, will review a complaint that alleges Tim Michels, a Republican candidate for governor, improperly listed the municipality of his mailing address on a majority of his nomination papers. Michels' campaign called it a "frivolous complaint" to keep him off the ballot.

When these complaints are filed, WEC reviews them and votes on the outcome. If commissioners can't reach an agreement, resulting in a 3-3 tied vote, the matter could wind up in court.

Candidates can file an appeal but would need to do so almost immediately, because absentee ballots are scheduled to be mailed out in the coming weeks.

In 2020, commissioners tied 3-3 over paperwork in question filed by Green Party presidential and vice presidential candidates Howie Hawkin and Angela Walker. The issue was sent to the state Supreme Court who ultimately ruled to keep them on the ballot because there wasn't enough time to print new ballots.

Four years ago, WEC kept two judicial candidates on the ballot despite listing two different mailing addresses. It's a similar issue Michels is facing, but the 2018 case was never a formal challenge.

Each complaint over candidate signatures can produce different outcomes, but challenges typically come as local clerks begin preparing absentee ballots which are sent to voters around mid-June.

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