Tag Archives: Moore

Justice Department to monitor polls in Milwaukee

The Justice Department announced that its Civil Rights Division will deploy more than 500 personnel to 67 jurisdictions, including Milwaukee, on Election Day.

Although state and local governments have primary responsibility for administering elections, Justice’s Civil Rights Division is charged with enforcing the federal voting rights laws that protect the rights of all citizens to access the ballot on Election Day.

Since the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the department has regularly monitored elections in the field in jurisdictions around the country to protect the rights of voters.

“The bedrock of our democracy is the right to vote, and the Department of Justice works tirelessly to uphold that right not only on Election Day, but every day,” said Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch in a statement.  “We enforce federal statutes related to voting through a range of activities — including filing our own litigation when the facts warrant, submitting statements of interest in private lawsuits to help explain our understanding of these laws, and providing guidance to election officials and the general public about what these laws mean and what they require.

“On Election Day itself, lawyers in the Civil Rights Division’s Voting Section will staff a hotline starting in the early hours of the morning, and just as we have sent election monitors in prior elections, we will continue to have a robust election monitors program in place on election day.  As always, our personnel will perform these duties impartially, with one goal in mind: to see to it that every eligible voter can participate in our elections to the full extent that federal law provides.  The department is deeply committed to the fair and unbiased application of our voting rights laws and we will work tirelessly to ensure that every eligible person that wants to do so is able to cast a ballot.”

Leading up to and throughout Election Day, Civil Rights Division staff members will be available by telephone to receive complaints related to possible violations of the federal voting rights laws (Toll free at 1-800-253-3931 or 202-307-2767 or TTY 202-305-0082).

In addition, individuals may also report such complaints by fax to 202-307-3961, by email to   and by a complaint form on the department’s website: www.justice.gov/crt/votercomplaint.

Allegations of election fraud are handled by the 94 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices across the country and the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section.

Complaints may be directed to any of the local U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, the local FBI offices or the Public Integrity Section at 202-514-1412.

Complaints related to disruption at a polling place should be reported immediately to local election officials (including officials in the polling place).

Complaints related to violence, threats of violence or intimidation at a polling place should be reported immediately to local police authorities by calling 911.

They should also be reported to the department after local authorities have been contacted.

On Election Day, the Civil Rights Division will monitor the election on the ground in 67 jurisdictions for compliance with the federal voting rights laws:

  • Bethel Census Area, Alaska;
  • Dillingham Census Area, Alaska;
  • Kusilvak Census Area, Alaska;
  • Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area, Alaska;
  • Maricopa County, Arizona;
  • Navajo County, Arizona;
  • Alameda County, California;
  • Napa County, California;
  • Siskiyou County, California;
  • East Hartford, Connecticut;
  • Farmington, Connecticut;
  • Hartford, Connecticut;
  • Middletown, Connecticut;
  • New Britain, Connecticut;
  • Newington, Connecticut;
  • West Hartford, Connecticut;
  • Hillsborough County, Florida;
  • Lee County, Florida;
  • Miami-Dade County, Florida;
  • Orange County, Florida;
  • Palm Beach County, Florida;
  • Fulton County, Georgia;
  • Gwinnett County, Georgia;
  • Hancock County, Georgia;
  • Chicago, Illinois;
  • Cook County, Illinois;
  • Finney County, Kansas;
  • Orleans Parish, Louisiana;
  • Quincy, Massachusetts;
  • Dearborn Heights, Michigan;
  • Detroit, Michigan;
  • Hamtramck, Michigan;
  • St. Louis, Missouri;
  • Douglas County, Nebraska;
  • Mineral County, Nevada;
  • Washoe County, Nevada;
  • Middlesex County, New Jersey;
  • Cibola County, New Mexico;
  • Kings County, New York;
  • Orange County, New York;
  • Queens County, New York;
  • Cumberland County, North Carolina;
  • Forsyth County, North Carolina;
  • Mecklenburg County, North Carolina;
  • Robeson County, North Carolina;
  • Wake County, North Carolina;
  • Benson County, North Dakota;
  • Rolette County, North Dakota;
  • Cuyahoga County, Ohio;
  • Franklin County, Ohio;
  • Hamilton County, Ohio;
  • Allegheny County, Pennsylvania;
  • Lehigh County, Pennsylvania;
  • Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania;
  • Pawtucket, Rhode Island;
  • Providence, Rhode Island;
  • Bennett County, South Dakota;
  • Jackson County, South Dakota;
  • Oglala Lakota County, South Dakota;
  • Shelby County, Tennessee;
  • Dallas County, Texas;
  • Harris County, Texas;
  • Waller County, Texas;
  • San Juan County, Utah;
  • Fairfax County, Virginia;
  • Prince William County, Virginia, and
  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The department will gather information on:

• whether voters are subject to different voting qualifications or procedures on the basis of race, color or membership in a language minority group;

• whether jurisdictions are complying with the minority language provisions of the Voting Rights Act; whether jurisdictions permit voters to receive assistance by a person of his or her choice if the voter is blind, has a disability or is unable to read or write;

• whether jurisdictions provide polling locations and voting systems allowing voters with disabilities to cast a private and independent ballot;

• whether jurisdictions comply with the voter registration list requirements of the National Voter Registration Act;

• whether jurisdictions comply with the provisional ballot requirements of the Help America Vote Act.

Last month, the Justice Department announced efforts to ensure that all qualified voters have the opportunity to cast their ballots and have their votes counted free of discrimination, intimidation or fraud in the election process.

Earlier this fall, U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin and U.S. Reps. Gwen Moore, Mark Pocan and Ron Kind sent a letter to the Justice Department asking for monitoring of the election in Wisconsin.

Moore and Pocan issued statement on Nov. 7:

“I take great comfort in knowing that personnel from the U.S. Justice Department will be on the ground in Milwaukee during this historic election,” said Moore. “Too many Wisconsinites, especially those in communities of color, face a host of unnecessary obstacles in their efforts exercise their constitutional right to vote. This is simply unacceptable. My colleagues and I in Wisconsin’s Democratic congressional delegation would like to thank the DOJ for ensuring that all voters, regardless of party affiliation or political ideology, have the right to take part in our democracy, free of discrimination or intimidation.”

Pocan said, “The decision by the Department of Justice, while welcome, is a bittersweet victory for those of us who want to ensure voting rights are upheld. Although the DOJ’s efforts to enforce federal voting-rights laws is essential to fending off the worst aspects of this relentless attack on the right to vote, my colleagues and I will fight to end the suppression and intimidation that have become normalized in this election. The bedrock of democracy is the robust participation of all of us in the political process—this has always been a core Wisconsin value. We cannot and will not tolerate the continued threat of disenfranchisement against hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites.”

Wisconsin congresswoman asks Justice Dept. to help prevent gun violence in Milwaukee

Democratic U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore of Milwaukee has asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to partner with local officials to reduce and prevent gun violence in Milwaukee.

Moore, on July 14, said, “Gun violence is a plague that steals the lives of far too many in our community. Each time we lose a life, our hearts break and the violence continues.”

She continued, “We must all work together, on the local, state and federal levels, to thwart these crimes. While common-sense gun violence reduction measures sit in legislative limbo, I am taking additional action now. I have asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to provide resources and support to our community. I know that these efforts alone will not solve our horrific problem, but neither will inaction.

“While I wait for his response, we must look to one another. Every one of us has an invested interest in ending this senseless violence. I implore everyone to do our part to keep our children and our community safe.”

The congresswoman, in her letter to Holder, said from January through mid-June, 30 children had been shot in Milwaukee. She said there had been 185 nonfatal shootings in the city during that time and 30 homicides.

The letter cited data from the Milwaukee Homicide Review Commission that showed a spike in recent gun violence: 78 people victimized between May 18 and June 15, with 71 percent of the victims falling between 18 and 34 years of age. Seventy-four percent of the suspects range between 18 and 34 years of age.

“As you can imagine, community leaders and many of my constituents are concerned that we could experience a trend of violence continuing through the summer months in Milwaukee,” Moore wrote to Holder. “Youth gun violence is particularly troublesome to me, because it not only snatches away the hopes and dreams of so many of our children, but it also devastates the families, friends, and neighbors who bear witness to our children being killed or taken from us.  Moreover, the loss of our children to gun violence snuffs out our potential for so many talented youth who would be great contributors to our city and the country as a whole.  We must put every option on the table to immediately halt this senseless violence that is plaguing our community.”

She asked the Justice Department to “do everything in its power to assist Milwaukee in its efforts to reduce and stop gun violence.”

 

On the record… Reaction to the marriage equality ruling in Wisconsin

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb on June 6 issued a ruling that Wisconsin’s constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. “Quite simply, this case is about liberty and equality, the two cornerstones of the rights protected by the United States Constitution,” she wrote in her 88-page opinion.

The responses:

“Today I join my lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender friends in Wisconsin and across the nation as we celebrate a profound victory towards giving the LGBT community the fairness they have long deserved. No one should be barred from marriage due to sexual orientation or gender identity. This is a great day in Wisconsin history, as we have officially declared that love is love.”

— Democratic U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore of Milwaukee

“The federal district court in Madison took another step toward ensuring full equality for every American. It is clear the growing momentum of support for marriage equality will put an end to discriminatory laws that treat LGBT couples as second-class citizens. In ruling after ruling, it has become unmistakable that the promise of America is everyone should be treated equally and with dignity.  Today’s ruling brings us one step closer to fulfilling that promise.”

— openly gay U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, who married his husband in 2006

“I have been waiting decades for this day to finally arrive and we won’t make loving couples wait longer than they want to to get married.”

— Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele

“I am proud of today’s decision that ends the ban that has kept LGBT couples from legally expressing their love for one another. Wisconsin has finally joined the wave of states across the country who have maintained the freedom to marry. My own brother, Jacob, was recently married to his husband because of the overturning of the ban in Oregon. I hope the ruling is maintained, as our state must never stand in the way of love.”

— Jonathan Brostoff, candidate for the 19th Assembly District

“Today is a great day for Wisconsin and committed couples who love each other across the state. Every loving couple should have the freedom to marry whomever they choose, and the fact that this freedom is now available in Wisconsin is something we all can and should be proud of.”

— Mary Burke, Democratic candidate for governor

“In our country’s history, the courts have often been the place oppressed citizens go for justice. Usually, the system works, because, as a wise civil rights leader once said, ‘the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.’ Today, we see justice.”

— Ron Zerban, Democratic candidate for Congress in

“Across the country, the courts agree: same-sex couples and their families need the dignity of marriage, and anti-marriage laws are indefensible. With over 70 marriage cases now making their way through the courts, today’s decision in Wisconsin underscores that all of America is ready for the freedom to marry. It’s time now for the Supreme Court to bring resolution nationwide.”

— Evan Wolfson, founder of Freedom to Marry

“I always felt like we were second-class citizens in not being able to get married. And now I feel good about my state in a way I haven’t before.”

— the Rev. Andrew Warner, who married Jay Edmundson in Milwaukee

Michael Moore urges Madison protesters to fight

Documentary filmmaker Michael Moore urged protesters in Madison on March 5 to fight Republican-backed efforts to strip most public workers of their collective bargaining rights, telling them, “Madison is only the beginning.”

The crowd roared in approval as Moore implored thousands of demonstrators to keep up their struggle against GOP Gov. Scott Walker’s legislation, comparing their fight to the revolt in Egypt. He also thanked the 14 state Democratic senators who fled the state to block a vote on the bill, saying they’ll go down in history books.

“We’re going to do this together. Don’t give up. Please don’t give up,” Moore said.

Protesters have become a permanent fixture in and around the Capitol over the last three weeks. Police said a crowd of about 70,000 showed up on Feb. 19, and an even larger crowd rallied on Feb. 26.

Moore said the wealthy have overreached, first taking the working class’ money and then taking their souls by shutting them up at the bargaining table. The crowd yelled, “thank you,” before Moore began to speak, and he responded, “All of America thanks you, Wisconsin.”

Walker has said the legislation is needed to help ease a budget deficit projected to hit $3.6 billion by mid-2013, though opponents see it as an effort to weaken unions.

Two Democratic senators from Wisconsin joined the Rev. Jesse Jackson in Chicago to urge Walker to negotiate with workers. Sen. Lena Taylor said Democrats left because they “needed to slow the bill down” after it was approved unchanged in the state Assembly.

Walker, however, has said repeatedly that he would never negotiate with lawmakers. He’s responded to senators’ defection with threats to revoke their parking passes at the Capitol, end automatic deposit of their paychecks and dock them for missing work. He’s also threatened massive lay offs of state workers if the senators don’t return to Madison.

GOP leaders have repeatedly sent state police to the senators’ homes to intimidate their families and have ordered their arrest.

Sen. Chris Larson urged protesters in Chicago to stay strong.

“We’ve been here for the last 16 days we’ll continue to be here until workers’ rights are removed as the target in this budget repair bill by our governor,” he said.

Activists began a sit-in at the Capitol on Feb. 15, and although a judge ended protestors’ overnight stays late last week, several hundred were back in the rotunda Saturday chanting, “Who’s house? Our house” and “Hey-hey, ho-ho, Scott Walker’s got to go!”

Renee Peplinski, a fifth-grade teacher in Wisconsin Rapids, said she doesn’t mind making financial concessions to help the state even though it would hurt her family. She’s more concerned about losing her collective bargaining rights. Without union protections, teachers would be at the mercy of administrators who could decide to fire them for any perceived slight, she said.

“Every teacher I know is depressed,” said Peplinski, 42. “Every minute of the day there’s this black cloud.”
Walker has exempted police and fire unions from his budget proposal. Those unions backed him for election. Nevertheless, thousands of police and fire personnel have joined the demonstrations in Madison.

Military leaders asked to give benefits to gay discharges

U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Wis., has joined with the openly gay members of Congress and others in calling on the Secretaries of Defense and Veterans Affairs to ensure that gay and lesbian servicemembers discharged under “don’t ask, don’t tell” get the benefits they earned.

Moore joined in signing letters addressed to Defense Secretary Robert Gates and VA Secretary Eric Shinseki asking for policy change as repeal of “don’t ask” moves forward. U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., and Reps. Barney Frank, D-Mass., Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and David Cicilline (D-R.I.) also signed.

The letters also ask Secretaries Gates and Shinseki to address the issue of discharge characterizations in the repeal process. Some gay and lesbian service members were discharged in a way that may block access to health care for veterans, education through the GI Bill and other benefits.

“Even after we have ceremoniously repealed ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ we know there are still consequences,” Moore said. “For some gays and lesbians the policy might as well have been ‘don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t provide veterans benefits they earned.’ We need to get rid of that silent part because we can’t leave anyone behind as our nation moves forward.”

Baldwin said, “It’s time to right a grievous wrong and fully recognize the military service of gay and lesbian Americans discharged under ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.” One way of recognizing their service is to allow them the benefits they rightly earned.  We cannot undo the injustice these former servicemembers have already suffered, but we can begin to serve them as honorably as they served our country.”

Also signing the letters were Reps. John Yarmuth, Henry Waxman, Luis Gutierrez, Shelley Berkley, Pete Stark, Bobby Rush, Ed Markey, Anthony Weiner, Lois Capps, Mike Doyle, Betty McCollum, Betty Sutton, Barbara Lee, Edolphus Towns, Danny Davis, Maxine Waters, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Russ Carnahan, Chellie Pingree, Al Green, Gregory Meeks, Bob Filner, Jan Schakowsky, Keith Ellison, Jim Moran, Karen Bass, Donna Edwards, and John Lewis.

 

Ruffalo calls Oscar nom a win for equality

“The Kids Are All Right,” out director Lisa Cholodenko’s comedy about a lesbian couple raising two children, received four Academy Award nominations, including a nod for best picture. Actor Mark Ruffalo, a best supporting actor nominee for his role as the children’s sperm donor, called his honor “a win for marriage equality.”

“It is with great honor and humility that I receive my Oscar nomination,” Ruffalo said in a prepared statement. “I have been included with a group of top-notch actors who I respect and admire. I am humbled to be in their presence. I also would like to acknowledge the power of ensemble acting. The kind of acting that happened in this movie does not exist in a bubble. Any honor that I receive must be shared with Julianne Moore, Annette Bening, Josh Hutcherson, Mia Wasikowska, the rest of the cast, and of course the inimitable Lisa Cholodenko. Thank you to the Academy. This nomination is a win for Marriage Equality and that is the most I could hope for.”

Ruffalo is also set to star in the long-awaited film adaptation of “The Normal Heart,” Larry Kramer’s play about the early days of the AIDS epidemic. “Glee” creator Ryan Murphy is attached to the project and Kramer has written the screenplay adaptation.

Cholodenko also released a statement following the Oscar announcements. She lamented the omission of a nod for Julianne Moore, who played Bening’s partner in the film.

“It’s incredible to think that this morning’s Oscar nominations go back seven years to the fateful day Stuart Blumberg and I crossed paths in a Los Angeles coffee shop and agreed to write “Kids” together,” Cholodenko said. “If luck is preparation meeting opportunity, then that was the opportunity, hands down! I’m thrilled that I’ll be at the Kodak Theatre next month with Stuart, Mark Ruffalo, Annette Bening, Jeff Levy-Hinte, and my other producers who worked so hard to get this film made. I only regret that Julianne Moore didn’t get the acting nomination she so richly deserved. But the picture nomination is as much hers as ours. We couldn’t have made this film without her heart, smarts and loyalty, not to mention her outstanding performance.”