Another victory against voter suppression was won last week in Ohio and Wisconsin as voting rights groups, including our grant partners, The Lawyers’ Committee and ColorofChange.org pushed communications conglomerate, Clear Channel to remove over 100 billboards in mostly Black and Latino neighborhoods which they say were designed to intimidate voters. The billboards read “VOTER FRAUD IS A FELONY!” and warned that it can lead to prison sentences of up to three and a half years and a $10,000 fine. As ColorofChange.org points out: “In no small part because voters are more likely to be struck by lightning than to commit fraud at the polls, the billboards were widely viewed as an effort to intimidate minority voters who are uncertain about their rights from voting.”
After a large community outcry, Clear Channel agreed to remove these billboards in Cleveland, Columbus, and Milwaukee and replace them with statements encouraging people to exercise their right to vote. In addition to Clear Channel’s new billboards, The Lawyers’ Committee bought 36 billboards in Black and Latino neighborhoods in Cleveland and Milwaukee reading, “Stand up and have your say—Vote. When we vote, we are all equal.”
The funders backing Clear Channel’s original billboards were not initially revealed until Monday when Wisconsin venture capital fund manager and major GOP donor, Stephen Einhorn came forward, acknowledging that he and his wife Nancy paid for dozens of anonymous billboards in and around Milwaukee and two Ohio cities warning residents of the penalties for committing voter fraud. The Einhorns have made campaign donations to many Republican politicians, including Gov. Scott Walker, Mitt Romney’s presidential election campaign, Rep. Paul Ryan, along with other GOP House and Senate candidates.