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Republicans to monitor ballot harvesting events

Empower Wisconsin | Oct. 1, 2020

By M.D Kittle 

MADISON — The Republican Party of Wisconsin is warning the Madison city clerk that they will be closely watching a second ballot harvesting event this weekend and that the party continues to “explore” the legal concerns the “Democracy in the Park” initiative has raised. 

RPW also says Milwaukee Brewers mascots and intellectual property used in Milwaukee’s voter registration drive presents electioneering questions.  

In its letter to Madison City Clerk Maribeth Witzel-Behl, the party says it is concerned  some of the ballots turned in at the event may not have been marked in the presence of the witness who must certify that they saw the individual complete their ballot. 

“We are also concerned about the training that the ‘pollworkers’ may or may not have received,” the letter states. “We are continuing to work with the Trump campaign on staffing election observers in the park and advising them as we all continue to explore the legal options at our disposal.”

As Empower Wisconsin reported last week, the city held the first of its two “Democracy in the Park” events last Saturday at some 200 city parks. Poll workers reportedly collected nearly 11,000 absentee ballots. They also served as witnesses for voters bringing in blank ballots to complete. The public learned of this event through political ads endorsed by the campaign of Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden, casting a partisan stink over the reportedly “nonpartisan event.” 

On Friday, before last weekend’s event, legislative Republicans sent a letter to Madison’s city clerk urging her “in the strongest possible terms” to call off the ballot harvest. The clerk and the city’s attorney, a former Government Accountability Board bureaucrat who was instrumental in the unconstitutional John Doe investigation, effectively told Republicans to go to hell. 

“At minimum, your office should keep any ballots collected during this illegal effort separate from all other ballots that your office receives,” wrote attorney Misha Tseytlin, representing Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau). 

Photos of haphazard-looking bags of ballots next to hapless poll workers on the day of the rally raised more concerns. 

Republican Party of Wisconsin Executive Director Mark Jefferson said a team of party volunteers will be at the Madison parks this Saturday monitoring the event. He said litigation remains a possibility, depending on what they observe. 

“We’re not looking to interfere. Our goal is to make sure the law is adhered to,” Jefferson said. “We do have among the most permissive voting laws in America. We don’t think it’s too much to ask people to follow them.” 

In its letter to the Milwaukee Election Commission, the party said it has learned that some of the Brewers mascots and intellectual property have been used at a voter registration day drive at Miller Park. 

“As you may know, places like Miller Park and the Fiserv Forum are also being used as early in-person absentee voting locations. While we can certainly appreciate that Wisconsin sports are an integral part of the community, we are extremely concerned that usage of sports players, mascots, etc. would be present while voting is taking place at these locations,” the RPW letter states. “Under Wisconsin Statute, this would likely constitute illegal electioneering.”

“While the media will try to paint this as trivial, the risks of players and mascots present while people are casting their ballots is an extreme risk for the integrity of our elections and violates the law,” the letter asserts. 

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1 thought on “Republicans to monitor ballot harvesting events

  • Republicans are “warning” Madison about “Democracy in the Park,” a legal public service to help voters make sure their votes will be counted, and that unregistered voters can register at a park convenient to their home. I was one of those supporters of voting rights who helped with this event. It was neighborly, COVID-safe, and gratifying for those of us who believe that every elegible should be able to safely and conveniently cast a ballot – especially during this very extraordinary period of disease pandemic. People of any political belief system were able to volunteer for this event, as long as they were trained election workers. I must say I was never shaking in my biking shoes as I worked this community-minded event, despite this whimpering, veiled threat to democracy.

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