Elections Commissioner Bob Spindell told WisPolitics.com he rejects the suggestion that he supported voter suppression when he touted in an email to fellow GOP activists that turnout in Milwaukee was down last fall, particularly in Black and Hispanic areas.

Meanwhile, state Dem Party Executive Director Devin Remiker called Wednesday for Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, R-Oostburg, to withdraw Spindell’s appointment to the Elections Commission over the email.

Spindell wrote in the email, which was first reported by Urban Milwaukee, that Republican parties “can be especially proud of the City of Milwaukee (80.2% Dem Vote) casting 37,000 less votes than cast in the 2018 election with the major reduction happening in the overwhelming Black and Hispanic areas.”

Spindell added “this great and important decrease in Democrat votes in the City” was due to a “well thought out multi-faceted plan.”

“Bob Spindell’s effort to suppress the votes of Black and Hispanic Wisconsinites in Milwaukee is repugnant, and his continued service as a member of the Wisconsin Elections Commission is an unacceptable insult to the democratic process,” Remiker said. “From spreading conspiracy theories about our elections, to participating in Trump’s plot to install fraudulent presidential electors, Bob Spindell has proven time and again that he is unfit and unqualified to serve as an elections commissioner.”

Dem Elections Commissioner Mark Thomsen on Wednesday also called on Spindell to resign, writing on Twitter his colleague “has shown he cannot be fair.”

Meanwhile, Black Leaders Organizing for Communities said in a statement, “It is incredibly racist to brag about lowering Black and Brown turnout, it is also unacceptable to have these comments and views held by an election official.”

Dems have been critical of Spindell in the past on several fronts, including his participation in the false elector scheme that sought to award Wisconsin’s electoral votes in the 2020 election to Donald Trump even though Joe Biden won the state.

In the phone interview, Spindell insisted his comments about the GOP effort in the 2022 election was about Republican efforts to make inroads with Black and Hispanic voters, not seeking to suppress their vote.

He said it is difficult to persuade someone who has been voting Democratic for generations to switch their affiliation to the GOP suddenly. Instead, he argued Republicans sought to present the flaws in Dem candidates to those voters and at least get them not to vote for them as Republicans try to flip them to their side.

“If they’re excited about a candidate, the Black population will really show up and vote. If they’re not excited, they won’t,” Spindell said. “The idea is if people say, ‘Hey, the Democratic candidate is not so great, either, and is probably just as bad as the Republican candidate, maybe, I’ll just wait and see.'”

Spindell also shared with WisPolitics.com a memo he sent to the 4th CD GOP, which he chairs, ahead of its Christmas party. It touted the drop in Milwaukee turnout, though using different language than the email that was reported by Urban Milwaukee.

Read Spindell’s memo:
https://www.wispolitics.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/230111SpindellMemo.pdf

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