Gov. Gretchen Whitmer penned a letter to U.S. Senate leaders Monday with 16 other Democratic governors, urging leadership to pass two voting rights bills pending in Washington, D.C.

Whitmer, who led the Monday letter, said the legislation was necessary to combat attacks against voting rights across the country including in Michigan. A total of 389 “anti-voting” bills have been introduced since the last election, the governor said.

“Protecting the right to vote is not a political or partisan issue. It is foundational to who we are,” Whitmer said in a statement. “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.”

The letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, seeks Senate passage before the year’s end of two different voting bills: the Freedom to Vote Act and the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Amendment Act.

Among other things, the bills would make Election Day a national holiday, permit online registration and same-day voter registration, ensure two weeks of early voting and work to prevent voter intimidation and racial discrimination at the polls.

The legislation would also mandate states and municipalities with a history of discrimination to seek federal “preclearance” before altering voting laws or regulations.

“Congress has the chance to set uniform standards for voting, to bring transparency to our elections, and to fight back against insidious voter suppression laws,” the letter said.

The legislation has been largely opposed by Republicans, but supported by Democrats in Congress. Senate Republicans blocked the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act from advancing in early November and previously blocked the Freedom to Vote Act.

Among the individuals signing the letter were governors for the states of California, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin, New Jersey, New York and Oregon.

Whitmer has vetoed a variety of state election-related bills passed through the GOP-led Legislature this year, including ones that would have toughened identification requirements for in-person voters and absentee ballot voters.


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