Nomination Papers In An Age Of Contagion

We still have two elections to go in Wisconsin for 2020. The general election on November 3rd that includes the presidential election and a primary election on August 11th.

And the period for gathering signatures of nomination papers for these elections started two weeks ago on April 15th and the deadline I believe is May 31 or June 1. In a normal election cycle, candidates and their proxies would be fanning out across their districts collecting signatures: knocking on doors, attending Memorial Day parades and celebrations, and standing outside of bakeries and hot ham and roll emporiums on Sunday mornings.

But in our new world, the Age of Contagion, there are no places where crowds congregate…knocking on doors is frowned on (I am not answering mine)…and all of the spring celebrations/conventions/water holes are closed and canceled.

So what’s an inventive candidate to do? Go viral! Well, not that viral.

In the past two weeks I’ve received a half dozen emails inviting me to download nomination papers from the candidate’s website, have everyone in my cloister (I mean household) sign it, and then mail it to the candidate’s campaign address.

This is going to make it hard because it requires a LOT of EXTRA steps on the part of the candidate’s supporters. And it leaves some major opportunities for errors since one of the signers will also have to act as the official circulator and sign off on the bottom. An easy thing to forget if you aren’t an experienced circulator (and I’ve seen experienced people forget). And it leaves other chances for errors if a circulator doesn’t pay close attention to the details on how the others completed their signature/identification lines. NOTE TO SOLICITORS: accurate dates are important…

And as we’ve seen in the recent race for Milwaukee County Executive, some candidates can get real persnickety about nomination papers…well, their opponents nomination papers. In the Age of Contagion, if I were a candidate, I cut some slack on small errors unless there is an apparent effort to defraud. There’s gonna be a lot of small things all around.

But one MAJOR thing to keep in mind. A circulator has to witness the signatures. I heard of one neighbor volunteer to leave papers on a clip board on their front porch. That is a big no no and an election law violation:

Signature of Circulator – The circulator should carefully read the language of the Certification of CirculatorTHE CIRCULATOR MUST PERSONALLY PRESENT THE NOMINATION PAPER TO EACH SIGNER. THE NOMINATION PAPER MAY NOT BE LEFT UNATTENDED ON COUNTERS OR POSTED ON BULLETIN BOARDS. The circulator’s complete residential address including municipality of residence must be listed in the certification. After obtaining signatures of electors, the circulator must sign and date the certification. 

emphasis in the original text

And then there are the go-getters who apparently bought an address list and just flat out sent out nomination papers with return envelopes. That took me a little by surprise. Particularly the races involved. So far I have personally received papers from Rep. Gwen Moore (re-election to the House), Israel Ramon (for Register of Deeds), George Christenson (County Clerk), John Chisholm (District Attorney), and David Cullen (County Treasurer).

I am confused by the number of email requests that I have gotten from candidates running in districts that I don’t live in. I hope they are doing a better job of running their campaign and vetting their nomination papers than their email lists. Fingers crossed. I imagine they bought lists of campaign contributors from other candidates.

So, I know that you are all sheltering, safer at home, and are jonesing for something political to do. So contact the candidates of your choice. Get a copy of their nomination papers via download or email or the good old USPS (they can use the business)…and sign them and very carefully complete them and return them to the candidate on time.

Who you have for choices on the ballot in August and November will depend on it….will depend on YOU!


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