Michelle Obama Celebrates MLK Day With Call For Voting Rights

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On Monday — Martin Luther King, Jr. Day — former First Lady Michelle Obama took to Twitter with a call to action in defense of voting rights. Recently, Democratic leaders have been pushing for the passage of federal proposals to protect voting rights including the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom to Vote Act, although the allegiance of so-called moderates including Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to the Senate’s filibuster rules has helped stifle progress. Those rules require that at least 60 Senators agree before moving forward with most bills (including those regarding voting rights), allowing for the Republican minority to launch successful blockades of Democrats’ agenda.

As Obama commented, referring to the voter outreach organization (When We All Vote) that she founded:

‘One of the best ways to honor Dr. King’s legacy is to take action to help protect voting rights in our country. Text ‘MLK’ to 56005 and [When We All Vote] will send some details you can use to call elected officials today and urge them to pass the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act.’

Of course, Sinema and Manchin’s support for the filibuster rules wouldn’t matter as much if Republicans didn’t remain generally so intent on keeping voting rights bills from passing. Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has consistently derided the notion that there’s any legitimate reason for the election reforms that Democrats are pushing, even though it’s his own fellow Republicans in states around the country who’ve enacted suppressive new restrictions around the electoral process. Characterizing the push to reform the Senate’s filibuster rules as something that would give Democrats “one-party control” of the federal government, McConnell recently dismissively ranted that “President Biden and Senate Democrats have been shouting at the American people that an evil, racist anti-voting conspiracy will destroy democracy forever unless Democrats get total one-party control of the entire government.”

The reality is that Republicans in states like Georgia, Texas, and Florida have put new rules in place that make voting more difficult. The newly in force provisions include limits on the usage of drop boxes for mail-in ballots, limits on the ability of local officials to send mail-in ballot applications to voters without prior requests from the recipients, and sharp restrictions on things as simple as handing out food and water to voters waiting in long lines at polling places. No systematic integrity problem has recently been discovered with the electoral system in this country, but Republicans have nonetheless pushed forward.