This is not the first election cycle the billboard space has been bought by an unknown group, known just as a private family foundation. The same billboards were up in the 2008 election cycle.
Ann Jacobs, a lawyer working with a national election protection group, says these billboards are part of a greater attempt to intimidate voters that has been escalating over the past few years.
These billboards appear in in the Milwaukee metro area, primarily in the inner city.
Jacobs says this is not the only case of voter intimidation, brought to the election protection group, that has occurred in the south eastern part of Wisconsin in the last couple of election cycles.
Cases have been documented of harassment of voters and poll workers in 2004 that led to the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board to change their rules of what is acceptable behavior at the polls. Voters have also reported being followed home in Racine in 2008 by unknown individuals leaving the polls.
In the 2012 special recall election of Governor Scott Walker, the Racine sheriff’s department responded to several complaints of alleged voter fraud. Each complaint was investigated, but was determined not to be voter fraud.
In the same year, the Wisconsin legislature passed what is known as the Voter ID law, joining 18 other states to pass similar laws since 2011. The Voter ID law has been criticized as a measure to restrict eligible voters from getting to the polls.
The Wisconsin Voter ID law is currently tied up in the court system after two law suits were filed by Milwaukee NAACP and the League of Women Voters. The law likely will not go into effect before November’s election.
It is unclear where this concerted effort is coming from, but in response a national non-partisan effort has been coordinated to give voter’s access to all information they need to know about voting registration, polling locations and eligibility. Ann Jacobs discusses the resources that the non-partisan election protection group, 866-OUR-VOTE provides for voters.
“This year’s coalition will be the largest voter protection and education effort in the nation’s history,” according to their Web site.