Milwaukee County judge dismisses Republican open records lawsuit over get-out-the-vote campaign

Republicans were seeking records from the Milwaukee Election Commission and mayor's office related to a get-out-the-vote campaign that conservatives said was attempting to bolster turnout in favor of Democrats.

Associated Press

October 11, 2022 • Southeast Region

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A sign reading Día de elecciones and Vote Aquí on two lines and another sign reading Vote with an arrow pointing to the left are taped to a wood door with a tall, narrow window that is propped open, with the entryway leading to a gym with basketball hoops and backboards, a cargo net pulled up to the ceiling, and a series of folding chairs and voting privacy booths at its far end.

Signs affixed to door of a gym point voters to a polling place in Milwaukee on Nov. 3, 2020. (Credit: PBS Wisconsin)

AP News

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — An open records lawsuit filed against Milwaukee officials by the Republican Party of Wisconsin has been dismissed after the party said it received what it had requested.

Republicans were seeking records from the Milwaukee Election Commission and mayor’s office related to a get-out-the-vote campaign that conservatives labeled an illegal attempt at bolstering turnout in favor of Democrats.

Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson’s office has clarified that Milwaukee Votes 2022 is a privately funded and nonpartisan initiative designed to encourage voting and register voters. Republicans filed an open records request on Sept. 13 seeking communications between GPS Impact, a liberal communications firm advising on the initiative, and the mayor’s office and Milwaukee Election Commission.

The party, joined by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, filed a lawsuit less than two weeks later on Sept. 26, alleging that officials weren’t responding to their request as swiftly as the law requires. Wisconsin’s open records law requires a response to requests “as soon as practicable and without delay,” but it often takes weeks or months for records to be provided.

Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Kristy Yang dismissed the lawsuit on Monday. Another open records lawsuit filed by the party, seeking records from Gov. Tony Evers’ administration related to the Union Grove veterans home, remains pending.

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