MADISON (WKOW) — The Republican National Committee on Wednesday hosted the first in a series of events to educate conservative volunteers about how they can serve as election observers and election workers this year.
Protesters and liberal critics have accused the GOP of recruiting people to disrupt voting at polling places in the state’s largest cities.
Protesters gathered outside the Esquire club in Kavanaugh on the north side of Madison on Wednesday afternoon. The RNC, in partnership with the Republican Party of Wisconsin, has held what it calls “Election Integrity Roundtables” in Madison and Onalaska.
Former state Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly was scheduled to attend the events. A total of nine were scheduled during the week, ending Saturday with programs in Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha.
The event listings describe them as an opportunity to ask questions about how elections are administered in the state and offer recommendations for improving party strategy.
“It’s really important, to make sure that citizens understand the process and that they know how they can participate as a poll worker, an observer, a chief inspector,” said Rep. Janel Brandtjen (R-Menomonee Falls).
Liberal groups and Democratic lawmakers including Sen. Melissa Agard (D-Madison) and Rep. Francesca Hong (D-Madison) spoke at a protest outside the Madison restaurant. They accused the GOP of plotting to have an army of troublemakers causing trouble at urban polling places and launching frivolous ballot challenges throughout the August and November elections.
“This is an effort, not to persuade people to vote for their side, but to deter and harass people who might vote in ways they don’t like,” said Matt Rothschild, executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. “And that’s not how our democracy is supposed to work.”
RNC spokeswoman Rachel Reisner accused protesters of harassing Tories who sought to take an active role in overseeing the 2022 midterm elections.
“Democrats protesting and intimidating volunteers who want to become poll watchers and workers are disenfranchising Republicans who have a legal right to be involved in the process,” Reisner said.
What exactly Republicans are discussing at these roundtables is unclear. The RNC is banning the press and general public from observing the events.
“I wasn’t invited either,” Brandtjen said when asked about the lack of transparency at the events. “I haven’t received a full program on this and, as I understand it, observer training, reviewing ongoing issues. I can’t answer for them.”
Brandtjen is listed as a guest speaker at the “Election Integrity Summit” June 24-25 in Wauwatosa. Brandtjen, who chairs the Assembly Elections Committee, has invited speakers who have made baseless allegations of widespread voter fraud in 2020.
Courts, recounts and criticism from nonpartisan state officials and a conservative group all concluded there was no widespread fraud in Wisconsin, which President Joe Biden won by more than 20,000 votes.
The event is hosted by Cleta Mitchell, who was a lawyer for former President Donald Trump and was on the phone when Trump tried to pressure the Georgian secretary of state to “find” more votes for him.
Michael Gableman, whom Assembly Republicans have hired to oversee their review of the 2020 election, is also scheduled to speak at the two-day forum. A Dane County judge said Wednesday he was fining Gableman $2,000 a day after finding Gableman dismissive for his failure to provide all relevant documents from his election review.
Judge Frank Remington also referred Gableman to the Office of Lawyer Regulation for possible discipline following his outburst on the witness stand on Friday and mocking Remington over a hot microphone during a recess.