by Andy Brownfield
Outcry, national attention spurred removal of voter fraud displays
A Cincinnati outdoor advertising company announced Tuesday
that it will take down controversial billboards that opponents claim
are aimed at intimidating voters.
Norton Outdoor Advertising had been contracted to put up
about 30 billboards that read “Voter Fraud is a Felony!” The billboards
also listed the maximum penalty for voter fraud — up to 3 and a half years and a
Opponents of the billboards claim they were strategically
placed in predominantly low-income and black neighborhoods in Cincinnati
as a means to discourage those largely Democratic voters from going to
The billboards were funded by an anonymous “private family foundation.”
In a statement posted online, Norton Executive Vice
President Mike Norton said the displays would be taken down as soon as
possible. He wrote that the
foundation and Norton agreed after hearing criticism that the sentiment
surrounding the displays was contrary to their intended purpose.
The family foundation didn’t intend to make a political
statement, but rather make the public aware of voting regulations, he
“We look forward to helping to heal the divisiveness that has been an unfortunate result of this election year,” Norton wrote.
Norton had previously told CityBeat that the billboards were not targeted but distributed randomly throughout the city.
Several Cincinnati officials wrote to the company requesting the billboards be taken down.
ClearChannel Outdoor Advertising announced on Monday that it was removing similar billboards in Cleveland and Columbus.
The billboards throughout Ohio had garnered national criticism and media attention.
A rival outdoor advertising company is putting up 10 new billboards to rebut the voter fraud ones.
The new red, white and blue billboards will read “Hey Cincinnati, voting is a right not a crime!”
Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld said in an
emailed news release that he reached out to Lamar Advertising
Company to ask if they would donate the billboards throughout
“We should be encouraging folks to participate in our
democratic process, not trying to scare them,” Sittenfeld wrote. “I
salute Lamar’s generosity and their support in encouraging citizens to
raise their voice and not be scared away.”