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Celebrities join Michelle Obama in urging Americans to support sweeping voting rights bill

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Former first lady Michelle Obama and a host of celebrities, including Tom Hanks, Tracee Ellis Ross and Kerry Washington, are calling on Americans to encourage their senators to support a sweeping voting rights package that would thwart efforts by Republican state lawmakers to curb access to the ballot box.

In an open letter published Tuesday by When We All Vote, a nonpartisan organization committed to voter registration that Obama co-chairs, the former first lady and a slew of celebrity signatories urge “Americans of conscience and goodwill to join us in taking a stand for voting rights and to put the power more firmly in the hands of the people.”

“We are asking you to join us by calling on your senators to pass the For the People Act immediately,” the letter reads in part.

The For the People Act, or S1, aims to expand voting access nationwide. It would bar states from restricting the ability to vote by mail and, among other provisions, call for states to use independent redistricting commissions to create congressional district boundaries. The new bill also includes measures to protect against foreign interference in elections.

Though the act was passed by the House earlier this month, it’s likely to hit a roadblock in the Senate — where it was introduced last week — as it’s not clear there would be enough Republican support to overcome a filibuster.

The push by When We All Vote comes as Republican-controlled state legislatures are moving swiftly to restrict voting access in their states, with more than 250 bills to curb or complicate access to polls having been introduced in 43 state legislatures as of February 19, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.

“This landmark bill is the most critical civil rights legislation since the Civil Rights Movement,” the group said in a release.

The open letter says the legislation “is not about choosing one party or one issue over another. It is about commonsense reforms and best practices that make our democracy more open, more fair, and more inclusive.”

Among the letter’s more than 60 signatories are Alicia Keys, Jada Pinkett Smith, Laverne Cox, Joe Jonas, Leonardo DiCaprio, Carmelo Anthony and José Andrés.

The Senate Rules Committee is set to hold a hearing on the For the People Act on Wednesday.

Article Topic Follows: National Politics

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