Unfinished Business

Voting Rights Victory Over Intimidating Billboards

In the wake of protests organized by civil and human rights activists, two outdoor advertising companies, Clear Channel Communications and Norton Outdoor Advertising, this week began removing controversial anti-voter billboards, which had been funded anonymously by a “private family foundation.”

The billboards began popping up in Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, and elsewhere with an intimidating message about voter fraud being a felony punishable by years in prison and a $10,000 fine.  The billboards seemed designed to intimidate voters who may already have been confused by long political and legal wrangling over voter ID requirements and other efforts to discourage voting.  Voting rights activists immediately began an intensive campaign against the billboards – and won!

The Leadership Conference Education Fund joined with some of its Election Protection partners to fund and quickly post new billboards with a strong pro-voting message.

At the same time, voting rights activists, like members of the African-American Civic Engagement Roundtable in Milwaukee, held press conferences denouncing the intimidating billboards and began waging a public campaign for their removal.  Biko Baker, a Wisconsin activist whose get-out-the-vote message is featured in this Leadership Conference Education Fund video, produced a video about the billboards featuring citizens and activists in Wisconsin.  As one of the local activists says, “Wisconsin knows that the only fraud that exists is partisans attacking the franchise, manipulating the system to serve their partisan political goals.”

Other voting rights and advocacy groups, including Color of Change, collected tens of thousands of signatures demanding that the owners take down the intimidating billboards.

The ultimate victory over anti-voting forces comes from voting.  If you are in a state that allows early voting – vote as soon as you can.  And then help others make a plan to get to the polls and stick with it.

The removal of the billboards is another in a long line of legal and political victories for the human and civil rights community, which has mobilized this year against unfair voting laws and other forms of voter suppression.

Help spread the word on this important victory and visit Every Voter Counts to learn more about what you can do to help protect the right to vote.