You know what’s a crime? It’s when one group seeks to block other citizens from voting.
Yet, that has been the goal of the Republican Party in the current election. They’ve made no bones about setting up barrier after barrier to make it difficult for people to vote, particularly low-income persons and minorities.
The most recent evidence of that shows up on 85 billboards in the Milwaukee area, many of them in low-income neighborhoods, proclaiming: “Voter Fraud is a Felony,” followed by the word, “3 ½ yrs & $1,000 fine.” Now, on Oct. 22, just two weeks before the election and following several weeks when the signs were clearly visible, Clear Channel — the company responsible — has decided to take them down. They bowed to citizen criticism, but the harm may have already been done in throwing fear into the hearts of many people confused about election procedures.
Like many other efforts by Republicans, it was nothing but a blatant attempt to scare low-income voters from casting ballots, knowing full well that the vast majority are likely to vote for Democratic candidates. It’s bad enough that voter registration rules are becoming more complicated, causing problems for low-income persons who
find it difficult to find the time (away from work) or the transportation needed to get to a place to register.
All of these rules, the Republicans claim, were made to assure an honest election; but common sense tells us otherwise. Convictions for voter fraud are rare in Wisconsin, averaging between 12 and 20 a year, according to the Government Accountability Board. Since fraud is not widespread, why else spend thousands of dollars, except to scare off potential Democratic voters?
According to Clear Channel, the billboards are paid for by a “Private Family Foundation,” but the company refuses to say more, keeping the source of the considerable cost of the billboard secret. Thus the saga of the dirty billboards has ended, another example of the lengths to which Republicans have gone to stack the 2012 election outcomes.
Those who seek to curb the right of other citizens to vote are downright un-American. And is that not even a bigger crime? Ken Germanson, Oct. 23, 2012.