More than 100 billboards with slogans like “voter fraud is a felony” are popping up in Wisconsin and Ohio, a move some call an attempt to intimidate minorities from heading to the polls.
Most of the signs are in Milwaukee, primarily in Hispanic, African-American and poor neighborhoods—groups that tend to vote Democratic. The billboards show people locked up, and warn that voter fraud can result in up to 3 1/2 years behind bars and a $10,000 fine.
The sign spaces were purchased anonymously from Clear Channel.
“This is deliberate,” Democratic State Sen. Nina Turner told msnbc host Al Sharpton on Politics Nation on Monday night. “They are trying to invoke fear here.”
Both states, which are key battlegrounds this fall, have been at the forefront of legal disputes concerning early voting. Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted and Attorney General Mike DeWine (both GOPers) have been accused of pursuing legislation to block minority votes, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, also a Republican, tried to institute a strict voter ID law before being stymied by the courts.
“We have a problem with our democracy when you have election officials deliberately trying to take away the fundamental right to vote in this country in the 21st century,” Turner said.
Sharpton added, “This is as undemocratic and anti-democratic as you can get.”
And conservative groups like True the Vote have bragged that they plan to send poll-watchers to polling places across the country—again drawing accusations of voter intimidation.