Monday, December 13, 2021

Gov. Whitmer pens letter urging U.S. Senate to pass voting rights bills

Posted By on Mon, Dec 13, 2021 at 12:41 PM

click to enlarge Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. - STATE OF MICHIGAN
  • State of Michigan
  • Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer sent a letter Monday urging the U.S. Senate to pass legislation meant to protect and expand voting rights.

The Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act narrowly passed the U.S. House but have floundered in the Senate.

The bills are designed to combat legislation in states, including Michigan, where Republicans are trying to restrict voting by pushing lies about election fraud.

“Right now, voting rights are under attack in states across the country, including right here in Michigan, Whitmer said in a statement : “Our democracy works when everyone can be heard, when every eligible voter — no matter where they live or who they support — has safe, convenient, and secure access to the ballot. In states across the country, people’s voices are being silenced.”

Whitmer’s letter was cosigned by 16 other Democrats governors.

Whitmer pointed out that Legislatures in 48 states have introduced nearly 400 bills that opponents say would restrict voters' access to the ballot.

Republican lawmakers in Michigan have introduced dozens of bills that would curtail voting access, impose restrictions on absentee ballots, limit the secretary of state’s ability to assist voters and make it easier for political appointees to overturn elections.

Michigan Republicans also launched a petition drive that would impose strict photo ID requirements on voters who cast a ballot at polling locations or by absentee. The initiative also would bar the secretary of state and clerks from sending unsolicited ballot applications, as was done in the 2020 presidential election, when a record 3.3 million people voted absentee.

The petition from Secure MI Vote is intended to enable Republican state lawmakers to circumvent a veto from Whitmer. A peculiarity in Michigan’s constitution allows the Legislature to bypass the governor and approve a law if more than 340,000 voters — or at least 8% of the total number of votes cast in the last gubernatorial election — sign a petition to create a ballot initiative.

The U.S. Senate bills would prevent Republicans from instituting these new measures.

The Freedom to Vote Act would provide a minimum of 15 early voting days and same-day registration, make Election Day a federal holiday, stop gerrymandered election maps, and expand the ability to vote by mail.

The John R. Lewis Voting Right Advancement Act would restore the protections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and enable the government to respond to discrimination at the polls, among other things.

The state-level restrictions are in response to Trump loyalists sowing misinformation about election fraud.

“Protecting the right to vote is not a political or partisan issue. It is foundational to who we are. As governors, we have been working to make the ballot more accessible at the state level, and we know that voting rights have long been a bipartisan issue at the national level. We can work together to protect people’s voices by passing the Freedom to Vote Act and the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Let’s get this done for the sake of our democracy.”

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