Jeramey Jannene

“Voter Suppression At Its Worst,” DNC Chair Tom Perez Says

National Democratic Party may sue over Wisconsin's April 7th election.

By - Apr 13th, 2020 12:42 pm
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A voter waiting in line at Washington High School holds a sign that says "this is ridiculous." Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

A voter waiting in line at Washington High School. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Democratic Party leaders believe Republicans weaponized a pandemic to suppress voter turnout and steal the April 7th Spring Election and a Wisconsin Supreme Court seat. Party leaders confirmed they’re taking steps to prepare a lawsuit.

“What happened last week is a blight on democracy, is a blight on our state,” said Democratic Party of Wisconsin chair Ben Wikler during a Monday morning press briefing. “What’s so painful is not that Republicans don’t understand the dangers of coronavirus, it’s that they don’t care about the threat as much as they care about holding onto power.”

“This is voter suppression at its worst,” said Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez. As Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice from 2009 to 2013, Perez spent a substantial amount of time suing states and counties over voter access issues. “Whatever happened to Wisconsin nice?”

“Seeking to vote and vote in a safe manner is not a matter of right versus left, it’s a matter of right versus wrong,” he said.

Perez singled out the racial disparity in those infected with and dying from coronavirus. “What is so appalling about what’s taking place in Milwaukee… the very people who are most at risk from coronavirus are the same people who are being targeted, disenfranchised, and put at risk. Those are not Wisconsin values, those are not American values.”

The party may file a lawsuit after the results of the election are known Monday evening. “Every legal option is on the table,” said Wikler. A recount is also being considered.

“We will use courts of law. We will use courts of public opinion,” said Perez.

But Wikler said the party might not be the only entity filing a lawsuit. He said there were 3,831 candidates on the ballot across the state. “It’s hard to imagine a world where none of those candidates end up looking for legal recourse as well.

Wikler believes three numbers tell the story of the election. The turnout numbers, the results and the number of Wisconsin residents that contract the disease after voting in person. “We have seen the incredibly bravery and resilience of Wisconsin voters,” said Perez. “We will find out whether Republicans succeeded in stealing the election by weaponizing the pandemic.”

But last week’s election isn’t the only election on the party’s radar. A May 12th special election for Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District seat is still scheduled. The seat was recently vacated by Sean Duffy, who took a job as a conservative commentator with CNN.

Wikler called for that election to be delayed and switched to mail-in only, with all registered voters receiving a ballot.

Perez said Georgia, Ohio, New Hampshire and Iowa are led by Republican governors and have switched to mail-in elections. “I don’t understand why Republicans in Wisconsin don’t get the memo on this and choose the safety of their constituents over short-term political gain.”

“Let’s do it now and let’s prepare for November together,” said Perez, calling for Democrats and Republicans to work together to do the right thing. “That headline I saw, ‘this is ridiculous,’ that was correct.”

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