Bango, Bernie Brewer and the famous racing sausages are officially on notice.
Andrew Hitt, Chairman of the Wisconsin Republican Party, sent a letter to officials in Milwaukee saying it would be illegal to have mascots or players at the Fiserv Forum or Miller Park when used as advance voting locations before the general elections in November.
Hitt said in his letter on Tuesday that state law prohibited “campaigning” in such places. An effort to get out the vote – presumably using Bango and the Racing Sausages to attract people to early voting sites – would constitute an election, he argued.
“All of the Bucks and Brewers athletes and mascots are, of course, loved by their fans, so their presence on a site is definitely something of significant value,” Hitt wrote. “Therefore, it would be inappropriate for them to be at Miller Park or the Fiserv Forum while these sites are being used as absentee ballot sites.”
The Fiserv Forum is slated to be an indoor early polling location while Miller Park is being envisioned as a drive-thru where voters can vote from October 20. Neither location will be used to vote on Election Day, November 3.
Claire Woodall-Vogg, executive director of the city’s election commission, said she returned the letter to city lawyers.
“My first reaction is I don’t know what value a mascot would have in a parking lot to lure voters somewhere,” Woodall-Vogg said Wednesday. “It’s certainly non-partisan and doesn’t tell anyone how to vote.”
On September 22, the city hosted a five-hour drive-thru voter registration event at Miller Park grounds. Racing sausages were present at the event.
“It would be ridiculous to think that this was electoral,” said Woodall-Vogg.
The Milwaukee Bucks declined to comment on the matter.
Tyler Barnes, a spokesperson for the Brewers, said on Wednesday he was aware of Hitt’s letter. “We don’t intend to have any mascots or players present,” Barnes said.
Michael Maistelman, an electoral lawyer who works for the Democratic Party, said Hitt threw up and missed his letter. Maistelman said it wasn’t electioneering if the players and mascots weren’t campaigning. As long as they don’t distract or disturb voters, he said, their presence at both early voting sites should be allowed.
But Maistelman said it was clear what Hitt’s real intention was: to reduce the number of people who voted in highly Democratic Milwaukee in a presidential election. President Donald Trump will face former Vice President Joe Biden next month.
“You know Trump panics when his lawyers go up against the Brewers and Bucks mascots, Racing Sausages and Bango,” Maistelman said. “Who’s next – SpongeBob SquarePants?”
State Democratic Party Chairman Ben Wikler called Hitt’s letter “laughable.”
But in an interview on Wednesday, Hitt stood by his letter, saying officials need to make sure no one “runs elections” at Miller Park or the Fiserv Forum. He said the city was already behind schedule in selecting these locations as early voting locations.
“We just wanted to make sure everyone understood the rules of the game,” Hitt said, noting that the Bucks and Brewers are probably not very familiar with election law.
“Obviously, it seems a little silly to be concerned with racing sausages or something,” Hitt continued. “I understand that. But the reality is there is a line. You can’t give anything of value to people to come and vote.”
The letter comes just days after Republicans objected to Madison officials holding an event called Democracy in the Park in which voters cast mail-in ballots in Madison-area parks. . Officials reported that more than 10,000 postal ballots had been cast, with polling officers stationed in parks on Saturday. Another event is scheduled for October 3.
An attorney for Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) argued that the park event is an “illegal collection of ballots” and ” does not fall within the legal categories ”.
Contact Daniel Bice at (414) 224-2135 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @DanielBice or on Facebook at fb.me/daniel.bice.