MADISON, Wis. — Donald Trump’s tapping of Stephen Bannon, a leading figure in the “alt-right” movement that promotes overtly racist white nationalism and virulent misogyny, to a top position in his administration has raised alarms across the political spectrum. But according to One Wisconsin Now Research Director Jenni Dye, Trump’s selection of longtime Republican Party insider Reince Priebus is equally shameful, given his long history of involvement voter suppression schemes. Nationally and in Wisconsin, these Republican-backed voter suppression laws and the Supreme Court’s weakening of the Voting Rights Act impacted turnout and the results of the election.
“Throughout his tenure as a top Republican Party insider Reince Priebus has been intimately involved in despicable efforts to silence the voices of legal voters,” commented Dye. ”He has actively and shamefully sought to undermine that most basic right in of our American democracy, the right to vote.”
In 2012 it was revealed that the Priebus led Republican National Committee was working with Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos in attempting to secretly fund legal efforts to uphold Wisconsin’s strict voter ID law, in possible violation of state ethics laws. Most recently a federal judge found that the state administration of the voter ID law Priebus worked to maintain ran afoul of Constitutional protections of voting rights.
Previously, One Wisconsin Now uncovered a 2010 “voter caging” plot intended to suppress the vote in minority voting precincts in Milwaukee that involved Priebus, the state Republican Party, Americans for Prosperity and local Tea Party affiliates. Details of One Wisconsin Now’s investigation are also available here.
Two years earlier, the state Republican Party chaired by Priebus, consulted with the state McCain for President campaign chair to file a lawsuit seeking to purge hundreds of thousands of legal voters from election rolls.
A leaked e-mail also revealed that in 2008 the Priebus led state GOP also sought to recruit police, fire and security personnel to carry out partisan voter intimidation activities in heavy minority voting precincts in Milwaukee. In 2002, the state Elections Board enacted new guidelines for poll-watchers in response to a Priebus-led racially-charged voter intimidation scheme in Milwaukee.
Dye concluded, “Reince Priebus has sought to silence the rights of fellow Americans because of their race and because of who he thought they might vote for, all in the pursuit of partisan political power. His actions over the years have no place in a democracy are dangerously un-American.”