Voter fraud billboards to come down, Clear Channel to replace with voting rights message
Post by Emily Mills on 10/22/2012 10:00am
Billboards displaying a voter fraud warning message that sparked controversy among several community groups will be taken down, Clear Channel confirmed on Sunday.
The billboard company agreed to remove the signs, which read "Voter Fraud is a Felony!" after significant protest from organizations like the African American Roundtable and Citizen Action Wisconsin raised serious concerns about their placement.
Most of the signs were posted in and around the Milwaukee area and there were many accusations of the message being an attempt to intimidate minority communities in particular.
Another concern raised was the source of the billboard's funding. An anonymous "private family foundation" was the only credit. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal:
Jim Cullinan, vice president of corporate communications for Clear Channel Outdoor, said in a statement: "We reviewed the situation, and in light of the fact that these billboards violate our policy of not accepting anonymous political ads, we asked the client how they would prefer to work with us to bring the boards into conformance with our policy.
"The client thought the best solution was to take the boards down, so we are in the process of removing them."
Instead, the company says it will work with the City of Milwaukee Election Commission to create digital bulletins and posters, as well as transit shelter signs to promote the message, "Skip the election day line - vote early."
Mike Wilder, Director of the African-American Roundtable, and a member of the staff of Citizen Action of Wisconsin Education Fund, reacted to the decision in a statement, saying, “I am very pleased that Clear Channel is apparently doing the right thing less than a week since the African-American Roundtable publically called for them to be taken down."
"Voter Intimidation is an ugly tactic that unfortunately has plagued this country for far too long," he went on. "For generations, many individuals in our great nation were not granted access to the polls due to gender, race & ethnicity and class. As a result, many became powerless and underrepresented by their own government. A democracy is strong when it ensures that all of its citizens participate and have a say in their government. The decision made by Clear Channel to take these voter intimidation billboards down and, in addition, put up positive billboards promoting voting gets us one small-yet-significant step closer to a stronger democracy.”
Emily Mills is Editor-At-Large for Dane101, as well as Editor of Our Lives Magazine. She is also a freelance writer, photographer, actor, and musician (drummer and singer in local band Little Red Wolf). Originally from several states up and down the Midwest Emily has called Madison home since 2000. Contact her at