Democrats’ Elections Bill in Peril with Key Senator’s Opposition

Voters line up outside a polling place Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020, in Charleston, W.Va.

Voters line up outside a polling place Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020, in Charleston, W.Va. AP Photo/Cuneyt Dil

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

Sen. Joe Manchin said he would not support the For the People Act, which would create national voting standards, making it difficult for supporters to propel the legislation forward.

A key Democratic senator said he will not vote for a massive elections overhaul proposal that seeks to standardize many elements of early voting and voter registration across the United States.

In an announcement that likely dooms the elections bill, Sen. Joe Manchin, a conservative Democrat from West Virginia, outlined his opposition to the For the People Act in an op-ed published Sunday in the Charleston Gazette.

“Voting and election reform that is done in a partisan manner will all but ensure partisan divisions continue to deepen,” Manchin wrote.

The bill has no Republican support and Democrats have considered amending Senate rules to do away with the filibuster, which requires 60 votes in order to end debate before a simple majority can pass legislation.

In his op-ed, Manchin also reiterated that he would oppose any effort to weaken or eliminate the filibuster. In an evenly split Senate, that could imperil other elements of President Biden’s legislative agenda.

The For the People Act seeks to set basic national standards for processes around early and absentee voting—among its provisions, requiring states to offer 15 days of early voting and allow no-excuse absentee voting.

Democrats have said the legislation is necessary to stop a wave of new voting restrictions enacted by states this year. But Republicans said the bill amounts to a blatant power grab that overrides the expertise of state and local elections officials.

Partisan division over the bill was on display in the Senate last month during a committee markup.

Manchin defended his decision, writing that if ballot access rules are adopted on a party-line basis, the action stands to further politicize the basic right to vote.

“Whether it is state laws that seek to needlessly restrict voting or politicians who ignore the need to secure our elections, partisan policymaking won’t instill confidence in our democracy — it will destroy it,” Manchin wrote. “As such, congressional action on federal voting rights legislation must be the result of both Democrats and Republicans coming together to find a pathway forward or we risk further dividing and destroying the republic we swore to protect and defend as elected officials.”

Local elections officials have come out both for and against the For the People Act, known as S1 or HR 1.

West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner, a Republican, is among those opposed to the bill. Warner said Monday that because of the variety of needs in local communities, its local elections officials who are best poised to design rules for their elections, not the federal government.

“There isn’t anything in S1 that needs to be done at the federal level,” Warner said.

Warner pointed to one of the requirements in S1 that would have required states to offer same day voter registration on Election Day. The requirement supposes that voting precincts would have the broadband internet required to enter and verify voter registration information on site, Warner said, but that connectivity isn’t available across all parts of West Virginia.

“When you have 54 county clerks saying they are against S1, it’s pretty clear what is right for West Virginia,” Warner said.

Some elections experts have suggested that in light of the partisan divide over the For the People Act, lawmakers should turn their efforts to another bill that seeks to protect voter access— the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.

The bill would bring back the Justice Department’s oversight of voting laws in states with a history of racial discrimination or voter suppression—authority that was scuttled after a 2013 Supreme Court ruling.

“I don't think it's beyond the realm of possibility that this bill could create some bipartisan support,” Jessica Huseman, an elections expert and the editorial director of Votebeat told Politico last week.

The act has the support of only one Senate Republican thus far, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, but Manchin said he supports the bill and is working with colleagues to gain more bipartisan backing. 

Warner said he wasn’t familiar enough with the John Lewis legislation to know whether it would raise any concerns for his state’s election protocol.

Andrea Noble is a reporter with Route Fifty.

FEATURED CASE STUDIES
Powered By The Atlas
Orlando Protects Citizens During Heavy Rain Events by Optimizing Water Data Intelligence
Orlando, FL, USA
Olathe, KC Takes its Community Engagement to the Next Level with a Civic Engagement Platform
Olathe, KS, USA
Asheville Parks & Rec Strategic Plan Boosts Staff Participation & Deepens Community Relationships
Asheville, NC, USA

NEXT STORY: Report: Grocery Taxes Impede Food Security for Low-income Americans

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.