It doesn’t happen often, but occasionally Republicans slip up and acknowledge their party’s commitment to voter-suppression tactics. Last year, for example, then-Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel (R), in unusually candid terms, directly connected a GOP voter-ID law to Republican election victories in 2016.
The Associated Press reported the other day on an even more unguarded confession, this time from a top member of Donald Trump’s re-election campaign team.
One of President Donald Trump’s top re-election advisers told influential Republicans in swing state Wisconsin that the party has “traditionally” relied on voter suppression to compete in battleground states but will be able to “start playing offense” in 2020 due to relaxed Election Day rules, according to an audio recording of a private event obtained by The Associated Press.
“Traditionally it’s always been Republicans suppressing votes in places,” Justin Clark, a senior political adviser and senior counsel to Trump’s re-election campaign, said at the event. “Let’s start protecting our voters. We know where they are. … Let’s start playing offense a little bit. That’s what you’re going to see in 2020. It’s going to be a much bigger program, a much more aggressive program, a much better-funded program.”
Pressed for some kind of explanation, Clark told the AP that his party has been accused of voter-suppression tactics, but he intended to convey that those accusations are “false.”
And who knows, maybe that is what he meant. But in context, based on the Associated Press’ account and the audio recording of the Republican campaign adviser’s comments, there’s a far less flattering interpretation of the remarks.
Complicating matters, of course, this report comes against a backdrop in which Republican officials in several states are, in fact, engaged in a new round of voter-suppression tactics.
There are, for example, recent developments in Wisconsin to consider…
Democrats in the key swing state of Wisconsin vowed Monday to double down on efforts to ensure that any voters whose registrations are nullified by a judge’s recent ruling will be able to register again before the 2020 presidential election.
Legal appeals could delay for months the judge’s order Friday to immediately purge more than 200,000 voters who didn’t respond within 30 days to letters seeking to confirm their addresses. The case is expected to go all the way to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which is controlled 5-2 by conservatives.
… as well as an even more dramatic campaign underway in Georgia.
Georgia took a hatchet to its voter rolls this week despite widespread objections and a lawsuit: A federal judge okayed the Republican Secretary of State’s plan to purge 4 percent of its registered electorate, reducing the number of eligible voters by 309,000 on Monday night alone and possibly gifting the GOP with a decisive advantage in upcoming elections.
There are related Republican efforts on the way in Ohio, Kentucky, and Texas, among other states.
“Traditionally it’s always been Republicans suppressing votes in places,” a top adviser to the Trump campaign said, pointing to a phenomenon that, alas, is clearly ongoing.