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Commission to decide on ballot access challenges

MADISON — Two Democratic gubernatorial candidates and a Republican U.S. Senate candidate have turned in enough valid nomination signatures to get their names on the fall ballot, state elections official said Monday.

Wisconsin GOP Executive Director Mark Morgan filed complaints against Democratic gubernatorial candidates Dana Wachs and Andy Gronik alleging neither of them turned in 2,000 valid signatures, the minimum needed to secure a spot on the ballot.

Morgan alleged dozens of Wachs signatures weren’t valid because circulators and signers didn’t include complete addresses, some signers failed to print legibly and others dated their signatures after the date the circulator certified the signatures. He also alleged two Gronik circulators should be disqualified because they’re convicted felons.

Conservative activist Richard Strohm, meanwhile, alleged that Kevin Nicholson circulators weren’t Wisconsin residents.

The state Elections Commission was set to meet Monday to decide the candidates’ fate. Commission staff wrote in memos to the panel Monday that they have reviewed the challenges and Wachs, Gronik and Nicholson should be placed on the ballot.

The staff said Wachs has 2,252 valid signatures and Gronik has 3,602 valid signatures. They each need 2,000 to get on the ballot.

As for Nicholson, staff appeared to agree with his argument that circulators don’t have to be Wisconsin residents as long as they’re adult U.S. citizens who would be qualified to vote in Wisconsin if they lived in the state. The staff recommended the board declare Nicholson has 3,906 valid signatures, 1,906 more than he needs to get on the ballot.

The commission also was set to rule on challenges to six other candidates, including two Republican legislative hopefuls and three Democratic legislative hopefuls.

Police are investigating whether one of the Democratic candidates, Charisse Daniels, committed election fraud after Republicans alleged she forged 40 of her signatures and three people signed her papers twice. Daniels has not responded to the GOP’s complaint. Commission staff recommended Monday that the panel declare she has 193 valid signatures, seven shy of the 200 she needs.