Former WI Attorney Who Tried to Overturn 2020 Results Wants GOP to Make It Harder for College Students to Vote

Former WI Attorney Who Tried to Overturn 2020 Results Wants GOP to Make It Harder for College Students to Vote

FILE - Attorney Cleta Mitchell—a 2020 advisor to former President Donald Trump—speaks at the South Carolina Republican Party's inaugural "First in the South Republican Action Conference" in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on Aug. 27, 2022. (Gerard Albert III/Myrtle Beach Sun News/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

By Pat Kreitlow

April 20, 2023

Cleta Mitchell resigned from Milwaukee-based Foley & Lardner for her role in Donald Trump’s effort pressuring Georgia’s secretary of state to “find” him 11,780 more votes.

Cleta Mitchell, a prominent attorney who helped former President Donald Trump’s attempt to subvert the 2020 presidential election, told donors at a private Republican retreat last weekend that conservatives must do more to limit voting on university campuses and pursue other ways to make voting more difficult for young people and others who are more likely to oppose the GOP.

“What are these college campus locations?” she asked donors in Nashville, according to the audio provided to the Washington Post by liberal journalist Lauren Windsor. “What is this young people effort that they do? They basically put the polling place next to the student dorm so they just have to roll out of bed, vote, and go back to bed.”

Mitchell’s presentation was delivered last Saturday in Nashville, according to a report published Thursday by the Washington Post. Her push comes after record turnout by students helped propel Janet Protasiewicz to victory in this month’s state Supreme Court race, with nearly as many young voters participating as in last November’s midterm elections.

In the wake of 2020, Republicans in Wisconsin and several other states have tried to make voting more difficult for college students, leaving them unclear as to whether they can vote in the community where they currently live or have to vote in a hometown where they may no longer reside and may never return. Republicans have never provided evidence to back their claims that college ID cards and same-day voter registration create the potential for fraud.

The Post article also includes comments from Democratic election attorney Marc Elias, who has frequently brought lawsuits over actions designed to discourage or restrict student and youth voting.

“Imagine if in every place in this presentation where she references campuses, she talked about African Americans,” Elias said. “Or every place she says students, she instead talked about Latinos. There is a subtle but real bigotry that goes on when people target young voters because of their age.”

Mitchell also spoke out against the automatic mailing of ballots to registered voters, another method of making voting easier for Americans.

Mitchell separated from the prestigious Foley & Lardner law firm after a Jan. 3, 2021, Washington Post report found that Mitchell was on the now-infamous call between Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, during which Trump tried to pressure the  Raffenspergero manufacture enough votes for the former president to claim victory.

“All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have,” Trump said. “I only need 11,000 votes. Fellas, I need 11,000 votes. Give me a break.”

After her departure from the law firm, Michell formed the Election Integrity Network and continues to advise the Republican National Committee.

According to audio obtained by the Post, Trump also delivered private comments at the Nashville event that indicated a desire to someday end all mail and early voting. But until that happens, he noted, Republicans need to improve their mail and early voting operations with voters. Ironically, Republicans actually had a strong record of encouraging voters to vote early and by mail prior to 2020, when Trump baselessly denigrated the practices and claimed they played a role in his loss to President Joe Biden.


  • Pat Kreitlow

    The Founding Editor of UpNorthNews, Pat was a familiar presence on radio and TV stations in western Wisconsin before serving in the state Legislature. After a brief stint living in the Caribbean, Pat and wife returned to Chippewa Falls to be closer to their growing group of grandchildren. He now serves as UNN's chief political correspondent and host of UpNorthNews Radio, airing weekday mornings 6 a.m.-8 a.m on the Civic Media radio network and the UpNorthNews Facebook page.

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