Ohio Voter Fraud Billboards Target Minorities

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Screen grab from Cleveland.com video

Billboards warning that voter fraud is a felony punishable with up to 3-and-a-half years and a $10,000 fine have been popping up in predominantly black neighborhoods in Cleveland, Cincinnati and Milwaukee. The ads are a blatant attempt at voter intimidation, say community leaders in Cleveland, where the signs were first noticed.

“There’s no other explanation for it,” said local councilwoman Phyllis Cleveland. “Particularly to put a sign like that in a black neighborhood like this? There’s been no evidence of voter fraud in this community that I can ever remember.”

Ohio is one of the most hotly-contested swing states in this year’s presidential election. Nearly 70 percent of voters in Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland, voted for Barack Obama last time around. The state has seen partisan feuding around elections procedures such as early voting and the counting of provisional ballots marred by poll-worker error, but does not require voters to show photo ID.

Christine Link, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, says the ad is protected by the First Amendment even if it’s perceived as racist, and would have to contain a specific threat to a defined group in order to be classified as criminal voter intimidation or harassment.

Another civil rights group, The Lawyers’ Committee For Civil Rights, based in Washington, sent a letter to Clear Channel, the owner of the billboards, asking that the ads be removed. The letter said that the ads “stigmatize the African-American community” and “attach an implicit threat of criminal prosecution to the civic act of voting.”

A spokesperson for Clear Channel said that messaging was the responsibility of the advertiser, which is only identified on the sign as “a Private Family Foundation.”

If you see one of these ads, let us know by posting in the comments below or tweeting a photo and the location to @MoyersStaff.

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  • Anonymous

    Perhaps they should move those to the GOP-heavy districts, considering that the only documented cases of voter fraud have been committed by Republicans….

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeff.sponberg Jeff Sponberg

    These blatant partisan quips are an “ends justify the means”voter suppression effort on the part of a party that likes to stack the deck. This is underhanded dirty politics in action, because right wing Republicans know that their policies are unpopular, and so they will do what it takes to win.

  • Eric Lowrey

    Shame on Clear Channel for accepting money for this. Shame on those hiding behind a “Family Foundation”. Shame on them all who have no faith in the platform and ideas of the party they support and thus turn to evil acts.

  • mark mcshane

    Shameful.

  • mickstr

    If I remember correctly, Clearchannel is tied to Bain Capital?

  • cookie

    hopefully, they’ll just vote once and not be afraid. . .

  • cookie

    On a positive note, hopefully they’ll vote just once, and not be afraid. .

  • Theodore

    I’ll tell you who the racists are. The person in the picture, and the person who staged it. They intentionally put a black in the picture to try and attach a racist narrative to the picture. Blacks are the racists, claiming racism on everything, it’s so worn and tired, everyone is sick of it and it holds no weight anymore.

  • jim

    Blacks are the racists. why is there a black in the picture ?

  • shanequa jones

    That right, be puttin it in da white neighborhoods

  • http://www.facebook.com/erin.morse.925 Erin Morse

    I work at a new Montessori Public School in Milwaukee and pass by this everyday. I have been wondering why this is in on a billboard in a low-income, African-American neighborhood and not up in the neighborhood I’m driving from.

  • JPEJPE

    Last I knew, billboard advertising was quite expensive. Tell me again that the 1% truly has the best interest of American Democracy at heart. Here’s a link to a similar attempt by the right to suppress minority voting during the 2010 election. It actually instructs Latinos NOT to vote. Absolutely outrageous! http://johnsvor.blogspot.com/2010_10_19_archive.html

  • http://www.facebook.com/trish.haus Trish Hundhausen

    Here’s one from Milwaukee located at 2nd and Pittsburgh (and I just read that two more were sighted–all bordering lower income neighborhoods): http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151196216904631&set=a.152254099630.112931.86649244630&type=1&theater#!/photo.php?fbid=4914293419574&set=a.1071551153419.12155.1365344780&type=1&theater

  • Elmer

    I didn’t know the Idiot Racist Sub-human Moron Family Foundation used money in such a compassionate way.

  • ItsMeAgain

    Why would these billboards discourage anyone from voting?! I see them and think, “Great! I’m glad they watch for illegal votes.” If I were planning on voting illegally I might have a different point of view.

  • ItsMeAgain

    The billboards are meant as a deterrent to ILLEGAL voters. What a shame…felons and non-citizens should be able to vote, as MANY times as they want!