Target: Wisconsin venture capitalist Stephen Einhorn
Goal: Stop voter intimidation by wealthy political donors
Recently, dozens of billboards sprang up in predominantly African-American and Latino neighborhoods in Cleveland that displayed the warning that “Voter Fraud Is A Felony!” and that the act can lead to prison sentences of at least three and a half years. Clear Channel Outdoor eventually removed the billboards, explaining that they violate the company’s policy of “not accepting anonymous political ads.”
However, the individual who financed the billboards has been revealed to be Wisconsin venture capitalist and major GOP donor Stephen Einhorn. Einhorn announced that he and his wife have paid for dozens of anonymous ads around Milwaukee and in Ohio cities warning residents about the penalties for committing of voter fraud. Einhorn has defended his actions stating, “By reminding people of the possible consequences of illegal voting, we hope to help the upcoming election be decided by legally registered voters.
“Voters are more likely to be struck by lightening than to commit voter fraud. UFO sightings are more common than voter fraud in the United States. Statistics gathered by Mother Jones strongly suggest that, contrary to what Mr. Einhorn claims, voter fraud does not pose a threat to the legitimacy of this upcoming election. What does pose a threat is voter intimidation, and that’s exactly how these billboards were understood by residents from the neighborhoods they were placed in.
Given that they were placed in predominantly African-American and Latino neighborhoods, and that there has been a rampant campaign by conservatives to push the false notion that voter fraud is an issue in this election cycle, these residents are not wrong to believe that Einhorn and his wife might have intended to disuade American minorities from voting.
The right-wing campaign ostensibly against illegal voting is not only a non-issue with racist connotations, it also has the potential effect of dissuading legal voters from casting their vote by making them second-guess their registration status. This disproportionately harms the poor, the elderly, and minority voters. Take a stand against voter intimidation. Tell Stephen Einhorn to stop funding these offensive advertisements.
Dear Stephen Einhorn,
I am writing this letter to denounce your recent funding of a series of billboards in Wisconsin and in Ohio. These billboards advertised the penalty for voting without proper registration, and were placed in predominantly African-American and Latino neighborhoods. This act was highly offensive and potentially harmful, particularly to voters of color.
You claim to be taking a stand against illegal voting. However, the amount of people who attempt to vote without registration or who attempt to impersonate another person in order to vote is marginal. These figures are widely available. By funding these billboards you have increased the likelihood that a registered voter will not vote. This voter may be unaware of how to check their registration status, or unable to for a number of reasons, and this billboard might have intimidated them to the point where they have decided to just stay home on election day.
Surely you do not believe this is enabling democracy, Mr. Einhorn. These billboards are a form of voter intimidation. Please see the error of your ways and stop pushing the non-issue of illegal voting on vulnerable Americans.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Plunderbund.com