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Voting rights: Group explains Senator Manchin’s For the People Act compromise

Wheeling

WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) – West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin has been at the center of the discussions in Congress about voting rights, but what exactly is included in his proposed compromise?

A group of representatives of Let America Vote gathered this afternoon to break it down so some members of the community better understand. 

Former West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant lead the discussion that highlighted Senator Manchin’s proposed compromise to the For the People Act. Among those around the table were state delegates and representatives of business and labor from the area.

79% according to a Pew poll; Republican, Democrat, Independents that support what’s in this bill because they want the secret money out. They want to be able to have access to the ballots. They want to be able to have um good voter registration that makes it um um a minimum requirement for voters across the state.

Natalie Tennant, Former West Virginia Secretary of State

Among his new additions are :

  • Making Election Day a public holiday
  • Banning partisan gerrymandering and use computer models
  • Requiring voter ID with allowable alternatives, like a utility bill, to prove voter identity
  • Requiring states to send absentee by mail ballots to eligible voters before an election if the voter is not able to vote in person during either early voting or on Election Day. This would be due to eligible circumstances and allow a civil penalty for failure.

There are other provisions in the bill that supporters say are crucial to West Virginians like access to early voting. 

All 50 states run differently, but we think it’s critical because of the work that’s been done. I mean, it’s only been a hundred years that women can vote, right? So, you have to think about those kind of issues. That is our major power as Americans is having the right to go to the polls to vote for our elected leaders and anything that hinders that hurts our country.

Del. Lisa Zukoff, (D) Marshall County

Delegate Zukoff also echoed the importance of giving people different options to cast their ballots.

We had a high surge of COVID in Marshall County and I started getting panicked calls, ‘I can’t get to the polls. I’m in quarantine. How do I deal with this?’ Thankfully our county had a plan in place to deal with emergency voting. What if we hadn’t had a plan in place?

Del. Lisa Zukoff, (D) Marshall County

Tennant also discussed Senator Manchin’s support of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. As she explains it, that piece of legislation protects against discrimination in future elections. The For the People compromise protects rights to vote now. 

When 300 people march on the office of Senator Manchin, same with Senator Capito, they’re putting in their time. They’re being out in the heat to show these voting rights are very important. Just because you may say to yourself ‘oh well it’s ok wherever I go vote’ that’s not necessarily the case in the next county over or the next state over.

Natalie Tennant, Former West Virginia Secretary of State

She added that those concerned about voting rights should continue to voice their concerns to Senator Manchin and Senator Shelley Moore Capito by calling or writing their offices.

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