Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has cast his support behind a new bill to protect voting rights. Previously, he’d been the only Senate Democrat who opted not to sign onto the sweeping voting rights bill known as the For the People Act, but now — with his support of this new legislation — Senate Democrats stand united in their support for new voting rights protections. As CNN explained, the new bill — which is called the Freedom to Vote Act — “would make it easier to register to vote, make Election Day a public holiday, ensure states have early voting for federal elections and allow all voters to request mail-in ballots,” among other provisions.
Manchin commented as follows regarding the legislation:
‘The right to vote is fundamental to our democracy and the Freedom to Vote Act is a step in the right direction towards protecting that right for every American… As elected officials, we also have an obligation to restore peoples’ faith in our democracy, and I believe that the common sense provisions in this bill — like flexible voter ID requirements — will do just that.’
The bill is emerging amid an ongoing, nationwide effort by Republicans to make voting more difficult for the supposed sake of election security. In reality, no legitimate evidence has ever emerged supporting the idea that there is a systematic problem with election integrity in the United States. Still, Republicans have pushed measures like outright bans on forms of voting that have been used in communities with substantial numbers of Democrats. Such forms of voting include drive-thru voting, 24-hour voting, and mobile polling places, with the first two banned under a new Texas law and the last one banned according to the provisions of a new law in Georgia. That Georgia law also drastically limits the number of drop boxes for mail-in ballots that individual counties can have, literally cutting off access to the electoral process.
The Freedom to Vote Act faces tough odds in the Senate, where filibuster rules remain in place that demand the agreement of at least 60 Senators in the 100-member chamber before moving forward on most bills. The rules require most successful legislation to be at least nominally bipartisan, but Republicans have largely proven that they’re not interested in bipartisanship, grinding the legislative process to a halt.