CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Various West Virginia-based organizations continue to urge U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to pass several pieces of voting legislation in Congress.
Race Matters West Virginia, Charleston Chapter of the NAACP, West Virginia Faith Table, and several other organizations joined together for a virtual voting rights rally Tuesday, asking Manchin to pass the Freedom to Vote Act, John R. Lewis Act and Washington D.C. Admissions Act.
MetroNews has previously reported how Manchin is a sponsor of the Freedom to Vote Act. The act would allow same-day and automatic voter registration, provide mail-in voting opportunities during federal elections, and establish a 15-day early voting period.
The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which Manchin has supported, would restore the federal government’s ability to review local and state election laws, MetroNews’ Alex Thomas reported. The Supreme Court in 2013 struck down this authority, in which justices said the formula determining oversight was outdated.
Anessa Sherrod, a Lewisburg resident, member of Race Matters committee said on Tuesday the failure to deliver this voting rights legislation will put senators on the wrong side of history.
“Throughout our country’s history, Americans have protested, marched and even sacrificed their lives to be able to cast their ballots and fight for more people to have their freedom to vote honored,” she said.
“It is unfortunate and disgraceful that partisan politicians have attacked our freedom to vote. Senators need to stand on the right side of history.”
Republicans, including U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) contend the legislation would encroach on states’ ability to manage elections.
She said in recent weeks, “Let’s let the legislatures set the way that they want to see votes, and I think as you see more and more people voting, you’ll see that the accommodations are being made in states to make sure that happens.”
The U.S. Senate needs 60 votes to move the bill out of the chamber. Manchin has faced pressure to change senate rules, allowing senators to advance bills with a simple majority.
The virtual rally came one day after Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Many leaders on the Zoom call cited King’s life work for change, including Sherrod.
“In the words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy,” she said.
Larry Baxter, a retired school teacher from Lewisburg and former president of the Greenbrier County NAACP chapter said actions speak louder than words.
“I find it too ironic that all those politicians that stand and give praise to Dr. King and all those who followed him in his attempt to give Negros the right to vote, talk about determination, greatness and courage of this man yet they do everything in their power to tear away rights he fought so hard to gain for his people,” Baxter said.