It's one of the nastiest voter suppression schemes we've seen: this week, in African American and Latino neighborhoods in Ohio and Wisconsin, an anonymous group started running outrageous billboards that try to scare people away from voting.1 The billboards are hosted by Clear Channel, a media conglomerate owned by Bain Capital — the same company that Mitt Romney co-founded.2In key battleground states nationwide, Republicans are hyping an irrational fear of "voter fraud" to provide cover while they work to disenfranchise eligible voters. The truth is, voter fraud is exceedingly rare. More Americans are struck by lightning than commit voter fraud. The real problem, the one that can affect the outcome of our elections if we're not vigilant, is voter suppression.
Allowing an anonymous advertiser to create an atmosphere of fear around voting just as the early voting period begins is unacceptable. There should be an extremely high standard to ask a media company to refuse to erect a billboard based on content. But we believe these anonymously funded billboards, which have no other purpose than to intimidate minority voters and take away their voting rights, meet that standard. And as Clear Channel has rejected billboard ads many times in the past,3 the company should have no problem rejecting these.
CREDO is joining with our allies at ColorOfChange to demand that Clear Channel immediately take down these misleading billboards erected on behalf of an anonymous client.
Join the members of ColorOfChange in demanding that Clear Channel take down these billboards. Click here and we will automatically sign your name to the following letter, which we'll send to Clear Channel on your behalf.Dear Clear Channel CEOs Bob Pittman and William Eccleshare,
I am writing to demand that you take down the billboards that have cropped up in African American and Latino neighborhoods in recent weeks and that employ tactics meant to scare people away from voting. While you may not have crafted the message, your company is in fact the messenger.
These billboards, which read "Voter Fraud is a Felony," are clearly designed to intimidate voters of color and keep those communities away from the polls. That these billboards did not appear in white or suburban neighborhoods is proof of their discriminatory nature.
Allowing an anonymous advertiser to create an atmosphere of fear around voting just as the early voting period begins is unacceptable. I ask that you remove these billboards at once. I know that in the past, you have rejected billboard ads. This campaign of misinformation fits that criteria and is a dangerous disservice to the African American and Latino communities in which they are placed.
Please remove these billboards immediately.
Click here to automatically add your name to the letter to Clear Channel demanding that it immediately take down those billboards.Thank you for taking action.
Becky Bond, Political Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets1. Similoluwa Ojurongbe, "Ohio voter fraud billboard accused of intimidating black voters," thegrio.com, October 5, 2012.
2. Richard Meyers, "Does Romney's Bain Capital Support Voter Suppression?," DailyKos.com, October 10, 2012.
3. Noah Pransky "St. Pete Pride gay-themed digital billboards rejected by Clear Channel Outdoor," WTSP.com, June 11, 2010, "Clear Channel Rejects Billboard Highlighting Heartland Institute's Corporate Funders: "You can't criticize a corporation"," Forecastthefacts.org, May 17, 2012, and "Clear Channel Rejects Times Square Peace Billboard Timed for RNC," Democracynow.org, July 14, 2004.