Mr. President, I first rise today to thank my colleague for his comments, and I am very pleased that this process may now move forward. The one that was stymied because of a bill, that as my friend just pointed out, would kick millions of people off of healthcare, jack up their premiums and really was an effort to pace the buck to the states without the bucks. And I think that is one of the reasons that you saw Republican governors in Nevada and Ohio oppose this effort.  I want to thank him for his leadership on the relevant committees and his passion for this issue, and I would agree with him that people in my state, the state of Minnesota, just like the state of Colorado, we've got a lot of independent sorts in both our states, and they want to see us just get things done. And now we have that opportunity to do that. Thank you.

So moving to a new subject today as we wait for those bipartisan negotiations, and we hope that we will get something soon, because I've seen reinsurance be a positive force in my state for bringing some of the rates down in the exchange. The average, I think, for the preliminary rates was 20 percent when our Republican legislature joined with our Democratic governor to get this passed. Twenty percent reduction. We'd really like to see that rolled out on a national basis. 

But today I'm here to discuss my resolution, Senate Resolution 268, calling on the Senate to formally recognize September 26 as National Voter Registration Day. National Voter Registration Day is a celebration of our democracy and our nation's most fundamental right, the right to vote. Today thousands of volunteers and organizations in all 50 states are hitting the streets to register voters. Their goal is to create awareness about the registration process and register people who may not register on their own, or don't have the time, or don't know how to do it. It's really to reach out to people way head of an election. Last year their hard work paid off when more than 750,000 Americans registered to vote on National Voter Registration Day. These volunteers understand that voting is a fundamental right, but not everyone agrees. There are still people who seem to see it as a privilege that not all eligible voters should enjoy.

That is not the way we should see this. The right to vote is clearly under attack in the U.S. We've sene discriminatory voting laws spring up across the country and those who want to prevent people from voting are making it harder and harder for people to get to the polls. I do not see this as a partisan issue. 

My state last year had the highest voting rate in the country, and we've seen a number of states that do things like have same-day registration, mail-in ballots, things like that. They tend to have higher voting rates. They are not just Democratic states. They are Republican states. They are independent states. When you look at the list, it doesn't necessarily mean that a certain party is going to win. We had Independent Governor Jesse Ventura win in our state, Governor Tim Pawlenty. What our state shares is a high voter turnout. What does that mean? Well, it means that people have some trust in their government when they participate, even when their candidate doesn't win and the other candidate wins. At least they know they had a say and that it mattered, and that they went to the voting booth. And that's what I'm talking about today.

Because in some states we've seen discriminatory voting laws spring up and they have literally made it harder for people to vote. We have heard reports of problems with equipment. We have three-hour lines in Arizona. We've had 100 miles to the nearest polling station in Nevada and Utah. Photo ID requirements in Wisconsin where we know it can really be hard to get an ID in the first place. In North Carolina, a federal court found that the state's laws to prevent voter access--and this is a more conservative court, the fifth circuit--they said that the voter laws have been crafted with "surgical precision to discriminate against minorities." 

Now we have an Administration that is abandoning efforts to uphold voting rights. The Commission on "Election Integrity" looks to be making it harder rather than easier to vote. States are reporting that some Americans are actually unregistering to vote because of the Commission's request for personal data from across the country. We've had Democratic and Republican Secretaries of State band together to say this is something they don't want to do. Taken together, these efforts to suppress the vote represent a concerted strategy to ensure that fewer people make it to the polls.

This is not about one party or the other party. This is about our democracy, and our very freedoms are built upon the freedom to vote. So what else do see? Well, we see attacks on our election. I remember the presiding officer had an excellent, excellent quote on this matter when he said, "One election it'll be one candidate and one party, and the next election it could be the other candidate from the other party." And that is why when we look at interference from foreign governments, we must also protect the sacred right to vote. And that means everything from the amendment I have with Senator Lindsey Graham, which is now a bill, to make sure our cybersecurity is strengthened as we had into the 2018 election and make sure that our states have the ability to protect their own voting equipment.

The reports now--I just found out in my own state an attempt had been made to hack it. Twenty-one states have seen attempts at hacking. All our bill says is let's help our states to shore up their ballot boxes. This was carried by Mark Meadows, the head of the Freedom Caucusu. That's right. It is a bipartisan amendment across both the House and the Senate to protect our state election equipment. Our country is stronger when everyone will participate and that is why we must protect the election equipment.

We must make it easier to vote, and I have one idea here. Why don't we just automatically register eligible voters when they turn 18? Maybe when you get your driver's license, Social Security number, our states have that data. They also have a way to crosscheck with criminal records and other things to make sure that these are eligible voters. Wouldn't that just be easier than going out and trying to get everyone to vote?

Doesn't mean you have to vote. But you just automatically get registed to vote. Just like you get your Social Security number. There is momentum for this idea at the state level. Last month, Illinois became the 10th state to pass automatic voter registration, and experts predict it will result in 1 million people being added to the voter registration list. Fifteen million voters would be added if we moved to automatic registration. 

Another thing we can do is to allow same-day voting. In February, I introduced the Same-Day Registration Act. A bill that will allow people to register to vote on Election Day. This reduces the burden of voting and ensures that anyone who forgets to register can go up there to prove who they are and they can get registered. Fifteen states have this. Not just blue states--red states and blue states. And they always tend to be up at the top for the number of people who vote. We need to restore Americans' confidence in our election process and our democracy. And we do that by welcoming people to vote.

You know, a few years ago I was fortunate enough to go with Congressman Lewis on his yearly pilgrimage. His trip where takes people to that march--the site of the march in Montgomery. The weekend that I got to go was 48 years to the day. The white police chief handed his image to Congressman Lewis, and he apologized because their police department at that time 48 years before had not protected the African American marchers and those other citizens that were there with them marching. We took 48 years, but it happened. It made you think about those marchers and everything they had done just to get the right to vote. You see it in other countries where people will wait in line for a day just to be able to have their say in their own government.

That's what this is really about. It's about a freedom guaranteed in our Constitution. And one of those is that we can all participate so long as we meet the rules, so long as we're eligible, we can all participate. Today on National Voter Registration Day, I hope others will join me and encourage others to vote and get out there and register yourself so your own voice can be heard.

Thank you, Mr. President. I yield the floor.