Target: Clear Channel
Goal: Remove billboards that create an atmosphere of fear around voting in low income and minority communities
As the 2012 presidential election draws nearer, it becomes increasingly pertinent that voters from all walks feel comfortable casting their ballot. But a new anonymously-funded campaign has been filling billboards in Wisconsin and Ohio with grave warnings about voter fraud. While the text of these advertisements is factual, the message they send to the low income communities where they’ve been placed is clear: vote, and you may find yourself facing an uphill battle with the law.
The billboards depict a judge’s gavel against a black background with the accompanying text: “Voter fraud is a felony! Up to 3 1/2 years & $10,000 fine.” This emphatic rally against voter fraud–a crime that, according to one Fox News report, happens about as frequently as winning the lottery–has only appeared in low income neighborhoods near Milwaukee and Cleveland. Most billboards have popped up in predominantly black and Latino communities–communities that were key to President Obama’s election in 2008. While these advertisements may be displayed under the guise of crime prevention, their true purpose seems clear: to create an atmosphere of fear that keeps urban minorities at home on voting day.
Clear Channel has the power to remove billboards deemed harmful or offensive from their advertising space. These discriminatory and manipulative advertisements have no place in the midwest’s most vulnerable neighborhoods. Demand that Clear Channel take action against this cheap attempt at voter suppression and remove these messages at once.
Dear Clear Channel,
Recently, billboards backed by an anonymous organization have appeared in Wisconsin and Ohio with the purported purpose of preventing voter fraud. But a quick look at the placement of these anti-fraud messages belies a more sinister intent: to keep black and Latino youth away from the polls on voting day.
These advertisements, which depict a judge’s gavel next to a stern warning about the punishments of voter fraud, have so far appeared only in low income communities in these midwestern swing states. Most have cropped up in black and Latino neighborhoods. Rather than inform the public about a serious danger, these billboards only serve to create an atmosphere of fear around the simple act of voting in the presidential election.
Vague and threatening messages such as these have no place in Clear Channel’s network. You have removed offensive and inappropriate advertisements from your billboards in the past. I demand that you take a stand against voter suppression and remove these menacing advertisements at once.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Peter Patau via Flickr.