Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) established his support for the John Lewis Voting Rights Act in a new interview with ABC, indicating that, if brought to the floor and put up for a final vote, the legislation might pass the Senate. Manchin is one of the most conservative Senate Democrats, so his support for the voting rights legislation suggests a promising path ahead for more progressively minded Democrats who are hoping to get the bill passed.
Although no Senate Republicans have publicly established any support for the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, Manchin told ABC that he’s “spoken to GOP colleagues and.. sees a path forward,” as summarized by the outlet. Manchin commented to ABC as follows:
‘I believe Democrats and Republicans feel very strongly about protecting the ballot boxes, allowing people to protect the right to vote, making it accessible, making it fair, and making it secure, and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, if we apply that to all 50 states and territories, it’s something that can be done — it should be done. It could be done bipartisan to start getting confidence back in our system.’
The John Lewis Voting Rights Act, as it stands, would reimpose a requirement for certain jurisdictions across the nation to get preclearance from federal authorities before instituting election procedure changes. This requirement was already once in place thanks to the original Voting Rights Act of 1965, but more recently, the U.S. Supreme Court lifted the requirement. The original idea was to allow federal authorities to have the opportunity to stop the implementation of changes to the conducting of elections that could impede the ability of marginalized voters to participate in the process.
Notably, throughout the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election, Republican state leaders across the country have proposed and in a selection of cases passed new election restrictions, although no systematic security issues were discovered with previous election administration guidelines anywhere in the country. As such, the legislation responds to problems that don’t exist, and the only real net effect is making it more difficult for some to vote.
These threats to voting rights could be substantially addressed by passing the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. Although Manchin is in support of that legislation, he is not in support of the For the People Act as it stands at present, a similarly styled but broader bill that Democratic leaders have been hoping to get passed.