WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama urged states on Friday to protect voting rights, saying "it's about making democracy as good as it can be."
Obama told a group of Democratic governors that he will press the voting rights issue this year, a presidential election year and also his final year in office.
"The job of our democracy is to make it easier, not make it harder, for our citizens to be able to vote," Obama told the elected officials, who are visiting Washington for the annual winter meeting of the National Governors Association. "We need to be modernizing voting to reflect the way that people live today."
He cited a new law in Illinois, his home state, where the governor is Republican, to expand early voting and allow people to both register and vote on Election Day.
Obama also commended the Democratic-led states of Oregon and California for being first to adopt automatic voter registration.
He encouraged the officials to review what these states have done.
"This is about more than just creating economic opportunity," Obama said. "It is about preserving the rights and opportunities of generations of Americans that have fought so hard to secure and broaden our democracy. It's about making democracy as good as it can be."
During the portion of the meeting that was open to the news media, Obama also noted that two governors — John Hickenlooper of Colorado and Peter Shumlin of Vermont — are newlyweds.
"So something is in the water," Obama joked, adding that the governors are doing what he and Vice President Joe Biden did, "which is marrying up."
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