A billboard declaring “Voter Fraud is a Felony” is now on display in Cleveland – a clear attempt to intimidate and suppress African American and student voters in the area.

According to Cleveland City Councilwoman Phyllis Cleveland, who took the photo, this sign is directly across from Arbor Park Village, a subsidized housing development of more than 600 units. It is also within a few blocks of three public housing estates and right down the street from Cuyahoga Community College Metro Campus.

“This is blatant voter intimidation,” says Councilwoman Cleveland. “A direct attack in the heart of African American community meant to scare people and keep them from exercising their right to vote.”

We couldn’t agree more.  But we aren’t surprised.  Republicans nationwide, and especially in Ohio, have been looking for ways to limit the turnout of Democratic voters – especially students and African Americans.  Franklin County Republican Party Chairman Doug Preisse admitted as much when he said ” I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban — read African-American — voter-turnout machine.”

Republicans in the legislature specifically eliminated early voting hours favored by African American voters, and  groups like True the Vote and their Tea Party allies have been actively working to intimidate voters throughout the state – including Ohio State University students.

It is currently unclear who paid for the billboard.  The sign simply reads “Paid for by a Private Family Foundation.”   But the sign’s owner, Clear Channel, has also allowed similar content to be displayed on a billboard in Milwaukee in 2010 which resulted in protests from the community.

Despite claims by “voter protection” groups, in person voter fraud is practically non-existent in the U.S. and we are aware of no convictions of any individual intentionally attempting to cast a fraudulent ballot in Ohio in recent memory.