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Republican Election Tactic Should Not Surprise Black Wisconsin Voters

MILWAUKEE — Recent revelations about Republican election tactics targeting minority communities in Wisconsin’s largest city came as no surprise to many black voters.

Wisconsin election commissioners boasted low voter turnout in black and Latino-majority areas in last year’s election. A few weeks later, an audio recording was released showing then-President Donald Trump’s Wisconsin campaign team laughing behind closed doors about their efforts to reach black voters in 2020.

Many who voted in last week’s state primary said they had long felt targeted by Republicans. It’s the public display of strategies to actively look to keep them from voting.

“This is a plan they devised and executed with great precision,” said Dwayne Walls, 63, of Milwaukee. As long as they have power in Madison.”- State Capital.

Walls and other black voters said they were fed up with the myriad hurdles that keep their voices from being heard at the ballot box. , said it was a voice to silence.

“Republicans need a lot of work. We need to see how they feel about being there,” says Valeria Gray. , 59.

PHOTOS: GOP Election Tactics No Surprise For Black Wisconsin Voters

She described Milwaukee’s relationship with many other parts of the state as racially divided.

“It doesn’t seem to go anywhere,” she said.

Voting rights advocates have accused Wisconsin Republicans for years of pushing policies that stifle voters of color and low-income voters. Many such policies were centered in the Democratic stronghold of Milwaukee, home to nearly 70% of Wisconsin’s black population.

Those claims were bolstered by an email sent to about 1,700 people in December from Bob Spindell, a Republican on the Wisconsin Election Commission. He said Republicans “can be particularly proud” of the drop in middle voter turnout in the predominantly Black and Latinx neighborhood of Milwaukee, a strong Democratic city.

Spindell later said his email was intended to convey the steps Republicans have taken to counter Democrats’ messages in the city.

The Associated Press later obtained an audio recording of a meeting where the head of Trump’s 2020 Wisconsin campaign team spoke with staff about efforts to reach black voters. I don’t think so,” the election official said with a laugh.

Dwayne Morgan, 59, called it “same old, same old” for Republicans in Milwaukee. Said.

The Republican-made legislative map adopted last year dilutes Milwaukee’s influence and almost guarantees a Republican majority in Congress. That’s despite statewide elections routinely being decided by a narrow margin, with Democrats winning major statewide offices such as governor, attorney general, and secretary of state.

The Republican-dominated Congress enacted a strict voter ID law in 2011 under then-Republican Governor Scott Walker. Since the start of his first term in 2019, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers has rejected more than a dozen Republican-backed bills that make it harder to vote. These include her ID requirements for elderly and disabled voters who are indefinitely confined, restrictions on when and where absentee ballots can be collected, and the requirement for election administrators to fill in missing voter information. includes a ban on

Nevertheless, Republicans won in court, legally outlawing ballot drop-boxes and refusing election workers to fill in missing information on envelopes containing vote-by-mail ballots. At stake in this year’s election, the conservative majority of the Wisconsin Supreme Court routinely ruled in favor of Republicans in inevitable voting decisions.

This adds to the many reasons Milwaukee’s black voters increasingly feel as if their vote doesn’t matter. racial disparities exist.

Low-income residents, who are disproportionately black, already struggle to meet their basic needs. Souls to the Poles Milwaukee founder Pastor Greg Lewis said confusion about new election rules and limited options about when and where one can vote is further discouraging voting. .

“Repression is not just part of it,” he said. “It’s not just that you can’t vote without ID. It’s not just that you can’t take your ballot into the drop-box. It’s not just the language barrier. It all comes together.”

For Barbara Bryant, 76, “all the extra steps” was the biggest barrier to voting. But she wasn’t going to deter her from participating in this month’s primary: Last week, during a snowstorm, polling workers pulled her out of her car and drove her to her polling place before her polling date. took me there.

Bryant said he has preferred to vote early in recent years so poll workers have time to explain the new rules, but inaccessible voting sites and the removal of drop-boxes have made it difficult for pollsters to vote. I’ve seen other senior citizens discouraged from voting.

A Wisconsin Republican told The Associated Press that he has been trying for a decade to infiltrate black and Latinx voters in Milwaukee.

The State Party opened its first office in downtown Milwaukee in 2019 with the goal of reaching out specifically to black voters. State Republican Party secretary general Mark Jefferson said the focus is on engaging them in the conversation rather than meeting typical campaign metrics such as knocking on a certain number of doors.

He said the party was not trying to stifle votes, but to chip away at support for Democrats in those communities.

“People are listening when they’ve never heard before,” said Jefferson. “I think we’ve learned a lot. I think we’re trimming the Democratic margin, albeit at a faster pace in the Latino and Hispanic communities. But even north of Milwaukee. We’re trimming the margins because we’re communicating more than we used to.”

Angela Lang, executive director of the Milwaukee-based Black Leadership Organization Community, wasn’t worried about Republicans gaining a foothold for black voters. said it is fundamentally at odds with what black voters want.

But Lang said he was concerned that a precedent could be set by Republicans openly talking about strategies to lower voter turnout.

“It’s incredibly dangerous because people feel more empowered when they start,” she said.

Several black voters interviewed in the poll said they saw little activity from Republicans in the city, describing the Republican Outreach Center as something of an exhibit for the party.

“I don’t think they ever came here and tried to contact us,” said voter Damario Wright, 36.


AP writer Scott Bauer of Madison, Wisconsin contributed to this report.


Associated Press coverage of race and voting is supported by the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation. AP is solely responsible for all content.


Harm Venhuizen is a member of the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to cover hidden issues. Follow him on Twitter.

Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC. Republican Election Tactic Should Not Surprise Black Wisconsin Voters

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