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Issue of the Week: Voting Rights and Voter Fraud

Oct. 24, 2012
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Community activists won a big victory this weekend when Clear Channel announced that it will take down spurious “voter fraud” billboards around town.

The messages, underwritten by a “private family foundation,” had warned potential voters that “voter fraud is a felony.”

But the message wasn’t a helpful reminder not to double vote or impersonate someone else at the ballot box.

No, the message was aimed at Milwaukee’s minority residents, who have unfairly been blamed for rampant voter fraud by scores of Republicans.

The problem with that allegation, of course, is that there is no rampant voter fraud. Investigation after investigation by law enforcement experts—including then-Republican U.S. Attorney Steven Biskupic—found that voter fraud is extremely rare.

But Republicans—and this anonymous “private family foundation”—want to use the voter fraud myth to intimidate and harass African Americans and Latinos who show up at the polls. This is merely the latest attempt by conservatives to deny racial and ethnic minority citizens from their right to cast a vote and fully participate in our democracy.

We applaud the community leaders who denounced the voter fraud billboards. We also support Clear Channel’s decision to take them down and to provide pro-bono digital billboard spots authorized by the City of Milwaukee Election Commission to encourage residents to vote.

Voting has already begun for the Nov. 6 general election.

You have a right to vote. Do not allow anyone to discourage you from having a say in your country’s future.

For more information about voting and registering to vote, contact the election commission (www.milwaukee.gov/election or 414-286-VOTE), My Vote Wisconsin (myvote.wi.gov or 1-866-VOTE-WIS) or Wisconsin Election Protection (on Facebook or 1-866-OUR-VOTE).

Heroes of the Week: Special Spaces Milwaukee Volunteers

Special Spaces, founded in 2004 and based out of Knoxville, Tenn., is a nonprofit that creates dream bedrooms for children dealing with chronic or life-threatening medical illnesses in hopes of giving them a fun, comforting place to recover. Special Spaces has expanded rapidly over the years and has many chapters located across the country, including in Wisconsin. Kathy Schmidt became involved with Special Spaces in 2011 after she was introduced to the organization through the TV show “Secret Millionaire.” She founded the Milwaukee affiliate of Special Spaces (1325 W. Towne Square Road, Mequon) that same year and, so far, the chapter has created four dream bedrooms.

“The entire room experience has been wonderful,” Schmidt said. “The volunteers as well as the families are amazed at the generosity of everyone involved.”

Currently, the nonprofit is searching for children dealing with life-threatening challenges to create rooms for and sponsors to assist in covering dream room costs. If you have or know of a child who would benefit from Special Spaces Milwaukee, or know of any sponsors who would like to support the cause, please contact Schmidt at 414-801-6320 or milwaukeekids@specialspaces.org. Volunteers to help with creating the rooms and managing the organization’s website are needed as well. To learn more about the organization, volunteering, sponsoring or donating, contact Schmidt or visit specialspacesmilwaukee.org


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