Former first lady Michelle Obama said in a letter on Sunday that a coalition of voting rights organizations would register more than a million new voters across the country in the run-up to this year’s midterm elections.
Obama, who founded When We All Vote, a campaign to register and organize voters, also said in the letter that the coalition would organize at least 100,000 Americans to contact their senators, urging them to pass the Freedom to Vote Act and John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Election reform legislation is struggling to pass the Senate, as moderate Democrats are reluctant to change Senate rules and push it through.
Obama’s letter, which ran as an ad in the Sunday New York Times, comes at the start of a week when President Joe Biden will travel to Georgia to speak on what the administration views as Republican efforts to suppress the vote. Biden is expected to talk about his support for a filibuster carveout that would allow voting rights legislation to pass the Senate.
The push for voting reform is intensifying ahead of the 2022 midterms, in which Democrats will fight to maintain their narrow control of the 50-50 Senate as Republican-led state legislatures across the country enact restrictive voting laws.
In the letter, titled “Fight For Our Vote,” Obama referenced the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
“One year ago, we witnessed an unprecedented assault on our Capitol and our democracy,” she wrote. “From Georgia and Florida to Iowa and Texas, states passed laws designed to make it harder for Americans to vote. And in other state legislatures across the nation, lawmakers have attempted to do the same.”
She compared modern voter suppression tactics to “poll taxes, literacy tests, and laws designed to strip away [Americans’] power,” saying that “we must give Congress no choice but to act decisively to protect the right to vote and make the ballot box more accessible for everyone.”
The letter outlined a plan for this year that includes recruiting and training at least 100,000 volunteers through 2022 to register and turn out voters; registering more than a million new voters nationwide; and recruiting thousands of lawyers “to protect voters in the states where the freedom to vote is threatened.”
In addition to Obama, the letter was signed by multiple high-profile groups, including Vote.org, the NAACP and the National Urban League.