Oroville Mercury-Register

GOP election tactics come as no surprise to Wisconsin's Black voters

- By Harm Venhuizen

MILWAUKEE >> Recent revelation­s about Republican election strategies targeting minority communitie­s in Wisconsin's biggest city came as no surprise to many Black voters.

A Wisconsin election commission­er bragged about low turnout in predominan­tly Black and Latino neighborho­ods during last year's elections. Weeks later, an audio recording surfaced that showed then-President Donald Trump's Wisconsin campaign team laughing behind closed doors about efforts to reach Black voters in 2020.

Many people who voted this past week in the state's primary election said they had long felt targeted by Republican­s. The difference now is the public display of strategies that at best ignore the priorities of Black voters and at worst actively look to keep them from voting.

“It's a plan that they devised and carried out with quite a lot of precision,” said lifelong Milwaukee resident Dewayne Walls, 63. “It's a repeatable pattern that's going to continue to happen over and over as long as they have that plausible deniabilit­y and as long as they have the power in Madison” — the state capital.

Walls and other Black voters said they are tired of the countless hurdles that disproport­ionately try to keep them from being heard at the ballot box. Voters said their experience­s with the GOP have been as voices to silence, not to win over.

“The Republican Party needs a lot of work. All of them need to actually step into our shoes, go in our neighborho­ods, work our jobs, do the things that we're doing on a daily basis and see how they feel about what's going on once they experience it,” said Valeria Gray, 59.

She described the relationsh­ip between Milwaukee and much of the rest of the state as one divided by race.

“It doesn't look like it's gonna ever go anywhere,” she said.

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