Welcome news from Ohio today. From the Daily Kos:
Some 145 billboards mostly in minority areas of Ohio and Wisconsin warning of big penalties for voting fraud were slated to start coming down Monday.
Of course, some unknown amount of damage has already been accomplished no matter what happens now.
The billboards depict a judge’s gavel and the text “Voter Fraud is a felony—up to 3 1/2 years and a $10,000 fine.” They appeared in Cleveland, Columbus and Milwaukee. Civil rights advocates and labor leaders had objected to the billboards as being meant to intimidate minorities and keep them from voting. The ads were hung in early October on the billboards, which are owned by Clear Channel Outdoor. The company initially said it would leave them up even though it conceded that it was a mistake to put them in the first place. The billboards were paid for by an anonymous contributor.
But Clear Channel Outdoor reversed course over the weekend, saying that it was against company policy to allow for anonymity with political advertising. The company usually requires that ads have the name of the purchaser at the bottom.
Voter fraud* is mainly a myth in this country and these billboards, almost all hovering over minority communities , were clearly intended as a voter suppression tactic. We will never know how many people will stay home on election day because of these billboards, but at least Clear Channel Outdoor has finally done the right thing and begun taking them down. They are also taking a further step thanks to a little community pressure:
Under pressure from the community Clear Channel Outdoor also donated 10 billboards around the Cleveland area that read “Voting Is a Right. Not a Crime!”
There should be a billboard with that message in every city in this nation.
* Voter registration fraud, on the other hand, is a serious problem this election cycle, highlighted by the whole Nathan Sproul debacle (Google it if you haven’t heard of it.) Hell, a Pennsylvania man who worked for Sproul in Virginia is facing 8 felony charges for voter registration fraud right now.