A photo of Steve Bannon.

Steve Bannon at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, MD.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore via Flickr Creative Commons.

Last week, a key witness in the Cambridge Analytica scandal told Congress that the firm tried to discourage and suppress voting.

During a hearing with the Senate Judiciary Committee, former Cambridge Analytica employee Christopher Wylie testified that the company offered services to discourage voting in certain American demographics. He also said that former White House political adviser Steve Bannon directly partook in these efforts.

“Mr. Bannon sees cultural warfare as the means to create enduring change in American politics,” Wylie claimed. “It was for this reason Mr. Bannon engaged SCL (Cambridge Analytica’s parent company), a foreign military contractor, to build an arsenal of informational weapons he could deploy on the American population.”

Civics Lesson: Voter Suppression as a Form of Oppression

A sign that reads "voting rights" pictured alongside the U.S. Capitol. Voter suppression in the U.S. dates all the way back to 1870, when the 15th Amendment was first adopted into the Constitution. The 15th Amendment reads:

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

While this amendment guaranteed voting rights for African-Americans and other ethnic minorities, states and local municipalities used other tactics to prevent these demographics from voting. Examples include poll taxes, literacy tests, and intimidation.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

After the hearing, Wylie told CNN that the “voter disengagement tactics” were used to “discourage or demobilize certain types of people from voting” in the 2016 presidential election. While Wylie claims that he did not personally partake in these efforts, he did say that African-Americans were among the top targets of the voter suppression campaign.

The whistleblower also said he was happy that both Republican and Democratic lawmakers attended the hearing, as he believes the misuse of personal data is a nonpartisan issue.

“Although Cambridge Analytica may have supported particular candidates in U.S. elections, I am not here to point fingers,” Wylie stated in his written testimony. “The firm’s political leanings are far less relevant than the broader vulnerabilities this scandal has exposed.”

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