Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia pledged to vote against a measure touted by his party that would give the federal government unprecedented control over elections traditionally managed by states because he believes it is too partisan and will be destructive to the country.
In an op-ed published Sunday in the Charleston Gazette-Mail, Manchin said he can’t support the For The People Act, putting its passage in jeopardy in an evenly divided Senate.
“The right to vote is fundamental to our American democracy and protecting that right should not be about party or politics. Least of all, protecting this right, which is a value I share, should never be done in a partisan manner,” Manchin, a former secretary of state and governor of West Virginia governor, began.
During his tenure as secretary of state, Manchin said decisions he made to expand early voting and implement other measures were not done to benefit his or any political party, but because he saw them as the right thing to do. “Throughout my tenure in politics, I have been guided by this simple philosophy — our party labels can’t prevent us from doing what is right,” he wrote.
“Unfortunately, we now are witnessing that the fundamental right to vote has itself become overtly politicized. Today’s debate about how to best protect our right to vote and to hold elections, however, is not about finding common ground, but seeking partisan advantage,” he continued.
“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 added.
“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,” he continued.
Manchin has also been criticized by left-wing media pundits and members of his party for his refusal to support ending the filibuster rule, which requires at least 60 members to move a majority of legislation. Both he and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona have come out in opposition of eliminating the rule.
“…[S]ome Democrats have again proposed eliminating the Senate filibuster rule in order to pass the For the People Act with only Democratic support. They’ve attempted to demonize the filibuster and conveniently ignore how it has been critical to protecting the rights of Democrats in the past,” Manchin wrote.
“As a reminder, just four short years ago, in 2017 when Republicans held control of the White House and Congress, President Donald Trump was publicly urging Senate Republicans to eliminate the filibuster. Then, it was Senate Democrats who were proudly defending the filibuster,” he added.
“Thirty-three Senate Democrats penned a letter to Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. and Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., warning of the perils of eliminating the filibuster.”
The West Virginia Democrat went on to urge his colleagues to pass through regular order the bipartisan John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, as well as other voting reforms.
Republicans and conservatives have warned that the legislation would “federalize” all elections in a way that would inherently advantage Democrats. In addition, they say the bill effectively nationalizes many of the voting changes adopted by officials and authorized by courts in key battleground states that led to so much chaos and vote fraud suspicion following last year’s elections.
“H.R. 1 would federalize and micromanage the election process administered by the states, imposing unnecessary, unwise, and unconstitutional mandates on the states and reversing the decentralization of the American election process—which is essential to the protection of our liberty and freedom,” says a summary of the bill by the conservative Heritage Foundation.
“It would (among other things) implement nationwide the worst changes in election rules that occurred during the 2020 election; go even further in eroding and eliminating basic security protocols that states have in place; and interfere with the ability of states and their citizens to determine the qualifications and eligibility of voters, ensure the accuracy of voter registration rolls, secure the fairness and integrity of elections, and participate and speak freely in the political process,” the summary added.
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