As concerns over voter suppression mount around the upcoming elections, Republican party officials in Wisconsin have set Milwaukee Bucks and Brewers players and racing sausage mascots in their sights.
The state’s party chairman Andrew Hitt sent a warning on Wednesday to the Milwaukee Election Commission against allowing athletes and mascots to appear at early voting events planned at local stadiums.
“All of the Bucks' and Brewers' athletes and mascots are, of course, beloved of their fans, so their presence at a venue is undoubtedly something of significant value,” Hitt wrote in a letter to Claire Woodall-Vogg, executive director of the Milwaukee Election Commission.
“Consequently, it would be inappropriate for them to be at Miller Park or Fiserv Forum while those venues are in use as alternate absentee ballot sites.”
No, sausages aren’t campaigning for Democrats
Miller Park is the Brewers home stadium. The Bucks play at Fiserv Forum. Both will serve as early voting sites as stadiums across the country are being used to expand voting access during the COVID-19 crisis. According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the racing sausage mascots appeared at a voter registration event on Sept. 22.
Hitt didn’t express concern about players and mascots advocating for a particular candidate, but cited a state law defining illegal electioneering as “any activity which is intended to influence voting at an election,” according to the Associated Press.
Woodall-Vogg challenged Hitt’s assertion.
“My initial reaction is, I don't know what value a mascot would have in a parking lot as far as enticing voters somewhere," Woodall-Vogg said Wednesday. "It's certainly nonpartisan and not telling anyone how to vote. ...
“It would be ludicrous to think that that was electioneering.”
Why is GOP worried about racing sausages?
Milwaukee is a Democratic stronghold, and increased voter turnout would presumably favor Joe Biden in the presidential election as well as down-ticket Democratic candidates.
Wisconsin is a critical swing state and helped propel Donald Trump to the White House in 2016. The Wisconsin GOP letter arrives as Trump sows discord around the legitimacy of the U.S. voting process and seeks to stifle mail-in voting.
Trump declined to commit last week to a peaceful transfer of power if Biden wins the election while casting unfounded aspersions on the legitimacy of ballots.
“We’re going to have to see what happens,” Trump said last week in a White House press briefing. “You know that I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster.”
A Brewers spokesman told the Associated Press that there were no plans for players or mascots to appear at polling sites. The Bucks declined comment.
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