Government Accountability Board Issues Order: Dahmen Won't Be on Ballot

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MTT News Desk's picture
Matt Geiger

Photocopied signatures of support will prevent David Dahmen’s name from appearing on the April 2 ballot, according to an order issued by the Government Accountability Board (GAB) Monday.

Dahmen had hoped to challenge Area 1 school board incumbent Jim Greer for his seat, and could still do so with a write-in campaign. 

However, this week’s GAB ruling asserts that Dahmen’s failure to turn in original signatures before the filing deadline constitutes a clear failure to follow Wisconsin’s election laws.

In his summary of the ruling, Michael Haas, elections division administrator for the GAB, writes that  “Middleton-Cross Plains School Board Clerk [Annette Ashley] did not act contrary to the laws or abuse her discretion” when she opted to disqualify Dahmen in January. Ashley concluded Dahmen’s nomination papers were not “timely filed, and were not in the physical possession of the filing officer by the statutory deadline as required by [Government Accountability Board] rule 2.05(2).”

Haas expressed “regret” that the GAB was unable to place Dahmen’s name on the spring ballot.

“In general, the board prefers to allow candidates to remedy defects in nomination papers and allow voters to sort out any concerns regarding a candidate’s actions in filing required paperwork,” Haas wrote. “In this case, however, the law is clear that original nomination papers must be filed and that the error cannot be corrected after the filing deadline.”

Haas added that Dahmen’s problem is “one consequence candidates risk when submitting nomination papers on the day of the filing deadline.”

Most of the facts in the dispute were not in question.

Dahmen submitted his nomination papers on January 2, 2013, the last day before the deadline passed.

When he submitted his nomination papers, Dahmen had in his possession both original documents and photocopies of the nomination papers. Dahmen later said  he was prepared to file either the originals or the photocopies and that he intended to rely upon the advice of the filing officer, Cheryl Janssen, as to which set of papers he should file.

At the time Dahmen submitted his paperwork, he waited for Janssen to indicate whether he had complied with the filing requirements. He also states that he asked if the documents were adequate and Jansen replied in the affirmative.

Janssen stated that, in response to Dahmen’s question, she reviewed his nomination papers, and stated that “he was all set.”

On Jan. 3, one day after the filing deadline had passed, Janssen reviewed candidate paperwork and determined that Dahmen’s nomination papers were photocopies. She contacted staff at the GAB, who confirmed that only original documents were acceptable.

Janssen then contacted Dahmen, requesting that he bring the original nomination papers to the District Administrative Office in Middleton. Dahmen delivered the original paperwork on January 3.

Monday’s GAB order asserts that it “the responsibility of assuring that nomination and candidacy papers are prepared, circulated, signed, and filed in compliance with statutory and other legal requirements lies with the candidate, David Dahmen.”

“Mr. Dahmen cannot rely on Ms. Janssen’s general statement that ‘he was all set’ as a conclusion that the filing officer had reviewed the nomination papers for sufficiency,” the ruling continued. “Although there may have been a miscommunication between Mr. Dahmen and Ms. Jansen at the time the copies of nomination papers were filed, or simply a failure to address the issue, the candidate must bear the consequence of not clarifying that he was filing copies rather than original documents.”

The order also states that neither Ashley nor the GAB has the authority to extend the statutory deadline for filing nomination and candidacy paperwork for any candidate.

Dahmen has 30 days to appeal the GAB’s decision in circuit court, but ballots for the Spring Election are scheduled to be printed before that window closes.



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