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Whitmer, 10 other governors issue call for peaceful transition of power

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer gives a press conference on Michigan's coronavirus response.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer gives a press conference on Michigan's coronavirus response.
Published: Sep. 30, 2020 at 3:59 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and 10 of her counterparts across the country issued a joint statement calling on President Donald Trump to leave office peacefully if he loses the Nov. 3 election.

The coalition of 11 Democrat governors also pledged to count all legal votes cast.

The statement does not name Trump, but says, “if the outcome of this election means the end of a presidency, he must leave office — period.” They pointed out that the United States has held elections and peacefully transferred power in times of great peril, including the Civil War and both world wars.

The governors added that Americans have a “sacred right” to vote on Nov. 3 as long as they follow applicable local, state and federal election laws.

“Any efforts to throw out ballots or refuse a peaceful transfer of power are nothing less than an assault on American democracy,” the statement says. “There is absolutely no excuse for promoting the intimidation or harassment of voters.”

They called on elected officials at all levels of government to “speak out loudly” against any efforts to disenfranchise voters ahead of Nov. 3.

The statement was released by Whitmer and Govs. Jay Inslee of Washington, Kate Brown of Oregon, Gavin Newsom of California, Phil Murphy of New Jersey, Tony Evers of Wisconsin, Tim Walz of Minnesota, Ralph Northam of Virginia, John Carney of Deleware, Steve Sisolak of Nevada and Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico.

All 11 of the governors are Democrats. Here is the full text of their statement:

"We do not take for granted the sacred right of every American to cast a vote, and to have that vote counted, in the presidential election held every four years. It is a right that is foundational to our democracy and essential to the continuation of our constitutional system of government — something to be cherished, revered and defended by elected leaders at all levels.

"Any efforts to throw out ballots or refuse a peaceful transfer of power are nothing less than an assault on American democracy. There is absolutely no excuse for promoting the intimidation or harassment of voters. These are all blatant attempts to deny our constituents the right to have their voices heard, as guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution, and to know the will of the people will be carried out.

"As governors, it is our solemn duty to protect the people of our states. Today, we affirm that all votes cast in the upcoming election will be counted and that democracy will be delivered in this election. That means all valid ballots cast in accordance with state and local laws must be counted, and that all states must properly appoint electors in accordance with the vote. We will not allow anyone to willfully corrupt the democratic process by delegitimizing the outcome or appointing fraudulent electors against the will of the voters.

"Our nation has held presidential elections and upheld the results throughout our history, even in times of great peril. We did it during the Civil War and both World Wars, and we can do it during a pandemic.

"And if the outcome of this election means the end of a presidency, he must leave office — period.

“We recognize that democratically held elections are not an exercise in controlling power. By its very nature, democracy is an exercise in determining and honoring out the collective will of the American people, regardless of the outcome. Disenfranchising voters in order to retain power strikes at the very heart of this promise. We call on elected leaders at all levels, from both parties, to speak out loudly against such efforts in the weeks ahead.”

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