Profound election complications have been averted in Wisconsin thanks to its judicial system, an exception to the trend of court decisions making voting during the pandemic more problematic in presidential battlegrounds.
Wisconsin's Supreme Court, which pushed the state's election toward fresh chaos last week, reversed course on Monday. The justices ruled the Green Party's ticket will not appear on the ballot, meaning more than a million vote-by-mail packets can be distributed and won't be delayed by a massive and expensive reprinting — and that thousands more ballots already delivered won't need to be replaced.
While the decision was an unexpected judicial victory for the cause of a smooth and comprehensive election despite the coronavirus — the good-governance movement's overriding objective for the year — it was a defeat for a long-term goal of many of those same democracy reformers: breaking the two-party duopoly, which is behind so much governing dysfunction, by propping up independent and outsider campaigns.
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UPDATE, Aug. 19: The state Supreme Court and a federal judge issued separate rulings Wednesday that will keep Green candidates off the ballot.
The Green Party is suing to keep itself on the ballot in Montana this fall, the latest testing of the limits of efforts to tamp down the small but persistent power of such minor political parties.
A state judge last week ordered five Green challengers removed from general election ballots on the grounds their candidacies had not been properly certified. The longshot lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal court seeks to overturn the judge's decision, arguing it violates the voting rights of, and effectively disenfranchises, approximately 800 Montanans who cast Green Party ballots in the June 3 primary.
This dispute is another example of the barriers third-party candidates face because of the American political duopoly. Many in the world of democracy reform argue that a baseline way to make the system work better is opening elections wider to candidates who don't identify within the increasingly polarized Republicans and Democrats.
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