On Sept. 30, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown joined a coalition of 10 other governors condemning threats to American democracy following Tuesday's first presidential debate, in which President Trump refused to condemn white supremacy, made false allegations about mail-in ballot fraud, and refused to commit to accepting the result of the November election.
"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," the governors wrote. "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."
And in what seems a direct response to the claims made by Trump during the debate, the statement addresses the issue of directly fraudulent election practices, such as throwing away ballots. (He alleged, without evidence, that elections officials found ballots dumped in creeks and wastepaper bins.)
"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. "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. "
The statement ends with reifying the purpose of a democratic election and the protections guaranteed to voters in the Constitution.
"We recognize that democratically held elections are not an exercise in controlling power," the statement says. "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."
The coalition of 11 governors includes Brown, Jay Inslee (WA), Gavin Newsom (CA), Phil Murphy (NJ), Gretchen Whitmer (MI), Tony Evers (WI), Tim Walz (MN), Ralph Northam (VA), John Carney (DE), Steve Sisolak (NV) and Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM), who have responded to fears associated with vote-by-mail ballots. All are Democrats.
The 11 governors close with a call to action, urging all elected officials to "speak out loudly against such efforts in the weeks ahead."