Voter Intimidation and the Tea Party

(This particular story seems to have slipped under the media spotlight—so I’d love a signal boost on it.)

The Tea Party has resorted to voter intimidation in Worcester, Massachusetts. This happened at a Democratic Primary a week ago—though speculation is that it was a warm up for the November election. Voter intimidation is a simple and nasty trick. You just need to find the people on the margins and do something to make voting a bit scarier.

Here’s how the Tea Party group did it in Worcester:

  • They photographed or videotaped people in the polling stations.
  • They raised fake challenges to people’s credentials.
  • They chalked sidewalks outside housing complexes claiming, falsely, that people needed an ID to vote in the election.
  • They slid fliers under residents’ doors making the same false claims about fliers.
  • They asked voters to provide identification.
  • Chastising" voters and their helpers for speaking Spanish

This is all, of course, illegal.

There’s really no dispute about why the Tea Party spin-off Activate Worcester is doing this. As the organizer of this effort wrote, “Worcester has just registered at least 3,000 new voters thanks to the Voter Participation Center and the Secretary of State — these are welfare recipients and disenfranchised people.”

Public Accommodations: They’re More Than Just Restrooms!

Did you know that transgender people have no legal protections against discrimination in places of public accommodation in Massachusetts? We can fix this problem by passing the Equal Access Bill.

A “public accommodation” is any establishment, public or private, that is open to the general public and that provides, or endeavors to provide, some type of goods and/or services to the general public. The Massachusetts Public Accommodation Law (M.G.L. c. 272, s. 92A, 98 and 98A) defines a place of public accommodation as “any place, whether licensed or unlicensed, which is open to and accepts or solicits the patronage of the general public.”

Why is passing the Equal Access Bill important? Check out these places where trans people can still be discriminated against in Massachusetts. The list may surprise you.

Hotels, motels, campsites, and other places of lodging

Restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and other establishments serving food or drink

• Retail establishments, including stores, shopping centers, car rental agencies, and other retail establishments

Theaters, concert halls, sports arenas and stadiums, and other places of entertainment

Convention centers, lecture halls, and other places of public gathering

• Museums, libraries, galleries, and other places of public display or collection

• Parks, zoos, amusement parks, beaches, and other places of recreation

Public transit and bus stations, train terminals, airports, platforms, and other transportation facilities

Public streets, highways, sidewalks, boardwalks, and other public ways

• Service establishments, including laundromats, dry cleaners, banks, gas stations, barbershops, beauty salons, travel agents, funeral parlors, and employment agencies

• Providers of professional services such as law offices, accountants, and insurance agents

• Health care facilities, including medical and dental offices, hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, nursing homes, and other health care facilities

• Public spaces and offices of state and local government agencies including, court rooms, hearing rooms, meeting rooms, waiting areas, lobbies, entrances, polling places (where you vote), public information counters and displays

Think it can’t or won’t happen to you or someone you know? Think again. Massachusetts transgender youth and adults routinely experience discrimination and harassment in public accommodations and services.

58% of surveyed transgender people were verbally harassed or disrespected in a place of public accommodationor service, including hotels, restaurants, buses, airports and government agencies.

Imagine what it would be like if you the Basketball Hall of Fame wouldn’t let you in, even with a ticket, because “they don’t serve people like you.”

Imagine being refused admission to Plimoth Plantation because you are transgender.

Imagine a bus driver verbally harassing you and being so openly hostile that you have to get out miles ahead of your stop for fear of your own emotional and physical safety.

Worst of all, imagine being denied admission to an emergency room because they “can’t help people like you.”

How you can help

February 1 is the deadline for Massachusetts senators and representatives to cosponsor the Equal Access Bill. Please call your legislators NOW and ask them to commit to cosponsorship.

Check out our Call to Action for easy instructions on how to find your legislators and what to say to them.

Another way that you can help is to talk up #MAtransbill online.

Is Elizabeth Warren the liberal Chris Christie?

Warren, a Massachusetts Senate candidate, saw her comments on the stump blow up the Tumblr-verse (h/t Wil Wheaton) and the liberal blogosphere.

The quote is good. But the delivery is even better.

And that has one writer comparing her to one of the GOP’s rising stars. Slate’s Dave Weigel writes: “Not only is Warren better on the stump than [defeated, and much maligned, Massachusetts Senate candidate Martha] Coakley, she’s starting to star in viral videos of the Chris Christie style.”

Decoder recently wrote about Christie’s raw emotional appeal. We wrote it then but we’ll say it again now: it’s sometimes amazing how little passion politicians use in discussing topics of massive national importance.

When a pol is able to put on a performance like Christie or Warren (or, once upon a time, Barack Obama), they not only convince their audience but inspire them. And, as Obama proved, inspiration can be a powerful political force.

Want more?

  • Guess which of the videos above has more YouTube hits? Warren, by a long shot: over 112,000 to under 500 for Christie.

Congratulations to the first openly gay attorney general in the country and the new attorney general of Massachusetts, Maura Healey!

This is a huge victory in Massachusetts and we’re so proud to have stood with Maura Healey all the way to Election Day - THANK YOU for voting and standing up for women’s health and rights.


Something Rotten in Massachusetts

Massachusetts has apparently decided that families aren’t really homeless unless there are children who have slept in a place not fit for human habitation. Notice the past tense. If a family is seeking emergency shelter as an alternative to sleeping in a car the answer appears to be, “Go sleep in the car. Then come back later. Then we’ll send somebody around to inspect to make sure you actually slept in the car eventually when we get around to it and hopefully you’ll still be parked in the same place.

While it’s great to hope that everybody can have stable, affordable housing, there’s an immediate need for safety. Nobody wants to live in a homeless shelter. Nobody is going to opt for a shelter over stable, affordable housing. And forcing children into danger doesn’t solve homelessness.

The video above is pretty good summary of what’s going on and what you can do about it. (As a warning, some of the stories are pretty upsetting1.) If you’re in Massachusetts, call some legislators

  1. TW: Everything.