CHARLESTON, W.Va. — As congressional Democrats push legislation that would change the United States’ election laws, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., wants his colleagues to take a bipartisan approach on voting rights, election security and campaign spending.
Manchin issued a statement Thursday on the “For the People Act” as the national debate on the proposal continues and Republican state legislatures consider restrictive election bills.
The senator shared his support for provisions of the federal legislation, yet he additionally emphasized a desire for Congress to work together on a bill, in part to ensure Americans that they can trust the federal government.
“Pushing through legislation of this magnitude on a partisan basis may garner short-term benefits, but will inevitably only exacerbate the distrust that millions of Americans harbor against the U.S. government,” he said. “We can and we must reform our federal elections together – not as Democrats and Republicans, but as Americans to restore the faith and trust in our democracy.”
The legislation would allow same-day voter registration, require states to have automatic voter registration and mandate voter-verified paper ballots. States would also have at least 15 consecutive days of early voting in federal elections and allow voting by mail.
Manchin is the only Senate Democrat not sponsoring the “For the People Act.”
The House of Representatives passed its version of the measure on March 4; West Virginia Reps. David McKinley, Alex Mooney and Carol Miller were among the 210 legislators who opposed the bill.
Manchin said there are provisions of the “For the People Act” he likes, noting the changes aimed at increasing voter access for individuals, “especially those who have traditionally not been able to participate.” He did share concerns about implementing some changes in rural communities.
Manchin additionally said any national voting legislation should address foreign interference in elections as well as campaign financing
“Even though our democratic institutions have survived foreign interference and a violent attempt to enter the United States Capitol during the counting of Electoral College votes, America’s declining trust in the government and each other makes it harder to solve key problems,” he said.
“That trust will continue to diminish unless we, as members of Congress, transcend partisanship to strengthen our democracy by protecting voting rights, implementing commonsense election security reforms, and making our campaign finance system more transparent.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has placed the “For the People Act” as a top priority for Democrats during this Congress.
“In the wake of the November elections — one of the safest in recent history — Republican-led state legislatures have seized on the former president’s (Donald Trump) big lie that the election was stolen, and introduced more than 250 bills in 43 states aimed at tightening voting rules under the guise of election integrity,” Schumer said Wednesday before the Senate Rules and Administration Committee.
“Instead of doing what you should be doing when you lose an election in a democracy — attempting to win over those voters in the next election — Republicans instead are trying to disenfranchise those voters. Shame on them.”
Schumer was one of the multiple speakers during Wednesday’s Senate Rules Committee hearing on the bill. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., one of the committee’s members, described the legislation as federal overreach.
West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner testified against the measure. Warner — who participated in a “Stop the Steal” rally last December at the state Capitol — shared concerns regarding how the bill would impact voting for military members and the effects on states’ power during elections.
Manchin’s statement also comes as Democrats continue pushing to eliminate the filibuster, which requires the Senate to reach a 60-vote threshold before moving most bills forward. The Senate is split between the Democratic and Republican caucuses, and leaders consider Manchin as a key legislator who could side with either party.
Manchin has stated multiple times he opposes eliminating the filibuster but would be willing to pass bills through reconciliation if Republicans refuse collaboration with Democrats.