The Wisconsin GOP is very concerned that giant racing sausages might get people excited about voting in this election, and the party is seeking to ban them from early voting locations.
Andrew Hitt, chairman of the Wisconsin Republican Party, wrote a letter to the Milwaukee Election Commission on Tuesday stating his opposition to having mascots and players at early voting locations at Fiserv Forum (where the Milwaukee Bucks play) or Miller Park (where the Milwaukee Brewers play).
In his letter, first reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Hitt said that the appearance of these characters would constitute “electioneering” and be illegal.
“All of the Bucks’ and Brewers’ athletes and mascots are, of course, beloved of their fans, so their presence at a venue is undoubtedly something of significant value,” he wrote. “Consequently, it would be inappropriate for them to be at Miller Park or Fiserv Forum while those venues are in use as alternate absentee ballot sites.”
In other words, the mascots are so famous and beloved that having them there constitutes giving people something of value in exchange for their vote.
The Racing Sausages and Bernie Brewer appear at Brewers games, while Bango is the Bucks’ mascot.
The Racing Sausages were at a Sept. 22 drive-through voter registration event. Nowhere in Hitt’s letter is there any allegation that the mascots were campaigning for any candidate or political party, or that they were intimidating voters.
“My initial reaction is, I don’t know what value a mascot would have in a parking lot as far as enticing voters somewhere,” Claire Woodall-Vogg, executive director of the city Election Commission, told the Journal Sentinel. “It’s certainly nonpartisan and not telling anyone how to vote.”
Hitt stood by his remarks to the Journal Sentinel, saying he knows his concerns may sound “a little silly,” but you “can’t give anything of value to people to come in to vote.”
Republicans have been very concerned about making it easier for people to turn out to vote in November. President Donald Trump has railed against mail-in voting, essentially openly admitting that he thinks Democrats benefit when barriers to voting are lowered.
On Sept. 26, the city of Madison, which is liberal, hosted “Democracy in the Park” events at more than 200 locations, intended to help people register to vote, request absentee ballots, serve as witnesses for people who already had their ballots and accept completed forms. Yet Republicans objected to these events, saying they were too much like in-person voting, which had not yet started, and risked threatening the security and integrity of the ballots.
In Texas on Thursday, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott told counties that they can designate only one location as a drop-off site for completed absentee ballots, adding another voting barrier during the coronavirus pandemic.
His announcement would hit Harris County, which includes Houston, is the state’s most populous county and leans Democratic, particularly hard, forcing officials to reduce their 11 drop-off sites to one.
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.