CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A coalition of groups and voting rights advocates called on U.S. Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito Wednesday to back federal election reform legislation pending on Capitol Hill. During a Zoom call with the media Wednesday the groups West Virginia Working Families and West Virginians for Clean Elections touted the benefits of the legislation entitled the “For the People Act.”
“To be against this bill is to be against our federalism. It’s to be against the ability of the people to decide the direction of the country,” said David Fryson former senior advisor to WVU’s president for diversity and community outreach.
The coalition of speakers not only advocated the federal changes which they claimed would strengthen the nation’s voting laws, but also railed against legislation before the West Virginia Legislature and measures in other states which they claimed actually erode voter access.
“With Legislatures in 43 states, including West Virginia, trying to make it harder to vote, it’s critical the Senate pass the ‘For the People Act’ to protect every American’s right and freedom to vote,” said Julie Archer of West Virginians for Clean Elections.
West Virginia’s bill would, among other things, move back the early voting period to end on Wednesday rather than Saturday. Critics said the change limits access since the Saturday before election day is a popular day to early vote in West Virginia. Speaking on MetroNews Talkline Wednesday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Moore Capito said the bill is dead for the session and will be studied during the interim meetings.
Many spoke out against the bill in a virtual public hearing earlier this week.
Ryan Frankenberry Executive Director of the West Virginia Working Families Party said there are states where voting is more accessible and suggested West Virginia should mimic those states.
“They allow same day registration. They allow automatic registration. They make sure there are plenty of polling places, plenty of ballot drop offs and voting is as accessible as getting a library book or checking your mail. We need that in West Virginia, we don’t need to be going backward,” he said.