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Friday, July 1, 2011

 2:04 PM 

Judge denies Nygren motion to get on ballot

Dane County Judge Richard Niess this afternoon denied Rep. John Nygren's motion to be put on the recall election ballot in the 30th SD.

Niess said his understanding is that the Government Accountability Board used the same process for each recall candidate, and that the will of the electorate cited by Nygren's attorneys must be reconciled with the public's desire for consistent election standards.

"Nobody is suggesting that they were unfair in any respect," Niess said in his ruling, later adding, "Just because you act with dispatch doesn't make it unfair."

Niess said he didn't have the authority to approve two signatures originally rejected by the GAB but that Nygren's attorneys argued "substantially complied" with standards for nominating papers.

Niess said the affidavit from a woman who signed for both Nygren and GOP primary rival David VanderLeest showed "inconsistencies," noting that while her filing said she intended to support only Nygren, her first signature on VanderLeest's papers could have reflected a previous position. He said no clear duty existed for the GAB to count her signature in its original decision, and rejected Nygren's request to mandate that the signature be counted.

In addition, Niess said the signature from a man who listed a work address outside the district but resided within it violated both statutory and regulatory standards for nominating signatures, and that the Nygren campaign should have followed the approriate process for correcting the signatures instead of filing his affidavit after the GAB decision.

With those signatures remaining uncounted -- and leaving Nygren short of the 400 signatures needed for ballot access -- Niess reserved ruling on the argument that Nygren's signature as a circulator should have counted toward his nomination total. He said a higher court could weigh in on that issue, or any others raised during his ruling, upon potential review.

"I'm sorry, Mr. Nygren," Niess said. "It was a very close call."

-- By Andy Szal

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